Adapting to climate change: the real costs for developing countries

26 November 2009

Stefano Manservisi, Director General, DG Development, European Commission, said the poorest countries will need help adapting to, and mitigating the impact of climate change and the Commission estimates that by 2020 an additional €50 billion (50% of current ODA flows) will be needed annually.

He welcomed the ECA Working Group’s report “Shaping Climate-Resilient Development”, but said its suggested measures will require significant financing so called on Member States to link their spending more effectively to global issues and create alliances between politicians and civil society.

Reto Schnarwiler, Head of Public Sector, Swiss Reinsurance Company Ltd, said the ECA report aims to help decision-makers assess and address the risks of climate change, by presenting various scenarios and reviewing the costs of moderate and high climate changes. This will require a “portfolio of responses” including infrastructure changes (e.g. building dams), technology solutions, policy changes and contingency financing. If there are extreme climate changes, 30%-80% of GDP will be at risk, but adaptation measures could prevent 40%-65% of expected losses and early investment is cheaper than disaster-relief efforts.

Patrick Gomes, Guyana’s Ambassador to Brussels, said early action is imperative and the report’s recommendations need to be implemented in Guyana and neighbouring countries that are subject to flood risk. Flood-hazard mapping must be integrated with GIS (Geographic Information system) technology to ensure a holistic approach that takes into account the effect on human life. Local strategies should be updated using clean technology transfer and the creation of centres of excellence.

He said Norwegian support through the UN-REDD initiative was crucial, and that further deforestation needed to be stopped.

Timothy Gore, EU Climate Change Policy Advisor, Oxfam International, said financing was the “make or break issue”, at the Copenhagen Conference. The amounts of money pledged so far are “a pittance”, as Oxfam estimates that €200 billion will be needed per year by 2020, which must be “new money” not a re-brand of existing ODA commitments of 0.7% of the EU Member States national incomes.

He said other institutions’ forecasts of the money needed ranged from the World Bank’s $75-100 billion to the IPCC’s $200 billion per year.