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The costs of adaptation- a Life cycle costing framework to assess sea dikes

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Oliver Heidrich, Dr Maria Pregnolato, Professor Richard DawsonORCiD


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Motivation and aim In contrast to climate change mitigation, there are no established frameworks for evaluating the effectiveness of different adaptation options over time [1]. Across countries and cities only limited evidence of the actual costs of installing the various infrastructure components is available, which indicates a gap between global adaptation needs and the funds available for adaptation. Although a range of studies have calculated the cost benefit ratio to protect for example megacities [2] or the value of providing coastal defence systems [3] the recent IPCC report [4] states that current studies that estimate the cost of adaptation are characterised by shortcomings in data, methods, and coverage and there is a need for a better assessment of global adaptation costs, funding, and investment [4]. As highlighted by Watkiss [5] there are 6 principal approaches (from cost-benefit to portfolio analysis) to support economic decision that are resource intensive and technically complex. Such complexity prevents the formal application to large investment decisions or major risks [5]. An emerging, although equally complex and resource intensive approach is Life Cycle Costing (LCC), however we argue that this standardised approach will support decision making processes. Methodology Adaptation generally assumed that early investments will be likely to be more cost-effective and bring bigger benefits in the long run, compared to a responsive approach. One widely used method to assess the effectiveness of adaptation strategies is to adopt a cost-benefit analysis and we compare such an approach with LCC. The objective of LCC is to provide decision-makers with the ability to select the most appropriate alternative options at any time throughout the life cycle of an item [6]. We utilise the BS draft method on Life cycle costing to illustrate its applicability for sea dike constructions. Conducting the LCC will reduce a potential uncertainty on the protection costs, which can remove potential barriers in decision making [7]. Importantly for this study LCC does provide important data and guidance information enabling decision-makers to evaluate available options. We position our findings in the wider context of dike costing and uncertainty estimates for dikes in the Netherlands, Canada and the UK [8]. The study advances a “best practice” approach to understand how the cost of adaptation strategies can be measured, alongside the assessment of risk reduction methods. Results and conclusion The research represents an effort to provide a framework for policy-makers to prioritize adaptation options and to allocate financial resources, in a context of increasing climate pressures. Recommendation are drawn how to improve costs estimation in order to support adaptation and to consider life costing methods. In future research, a range of factors could be considered before underlying drivers of costs can be estimated worldwide, like climate or socio-economic conditions. 1. Linnenluecke, M.K., J. Birt, and A. Griffiths, The role of accounting in supporting adaptation to climate change. Accounting and Finance, 2015. 55(3): p. 607-625. 2. Aerts, J.C.J.H., et al., Climate adaptation: Evaluating flood resilience strategies for coastal megacities. Science, 2014. 344(6183): p. 473-475. 3. Jonkman, S.N., et al., Costs of adapting coastal defences to sea-level rise - New estimates and their implications. Journal of Coastal Research, 2013. 29(5): p. 1212-1226. 4. IPCC, Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part A: Global and Sectoral Aspects. , in Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change V.R.B. C.B. Field, D.J. Dokken, K.J. Mach, M.D. Mastrandrea, T.E. Bilir, M. Chatterjee, K.L. Ebi, Y.O. Estrada, R.C. Genova, B. Girma, E.S. Kissel, A.N. Levy, S. MacCracken, P.R. Mastrandrea, and L.L. White, Editor. 2014: Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA. p. 1132. 5. Watkiss, P., et al., The use of new economic decision support tools for adaptation assessment: A review of methods and applications, towards guidance on applicability. Climatic Change, 2015. 132(3): p. 401-416. 6. Draft BS EN 60300-3, Dependability management- Part 3-3: Application guide - Life cycle costing, Mrs Philippa Younas (BSI), Editor. 2015, BSI: Brussels, Belgium. 7. Heidrich, O., et al., National climate policies across Europe and their impacts on cities strategies. Journal of Environmental Management, 2016. 168: p. 36-45. 8. Lenk, S., et al., Costs of sea dikes – regressions and uncertainty estimates. Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., 2016. 2016: p. 1-21.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Heidrich O, Pregnolato M, Dawson R

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: 7th International Conference on Flood Management (ICFM7)

Year of Conference: 2017

Print publication date: 05/09/2017

Acceptance date: 01/03/2017