Large scale coastal protection is cost-efficient for most of the global coastal population.

Large scale investment in coastal protection is cost-efficient for 90 percent of today’s global floodplain population. This is the result of a global scale cost-benefit analysis of large-scale coastal protection performed by researchers from Global Climate Forum and published in the journal Global Environmental Change.

“Sea-level rise is occurring in many areas of the world and supposed to continue and possibly accelerate during 21st century.  Our study illustrates that large scale protection, as it is already implemented in the Netherlands and the North of Germany, is generally economically efficient for densely populated coastal areas” explains lead author Daniel Lincke from the Global Climate Forum (GCF). “This holds true for a wide range of possible future sea-level rise scenarios (30cm – 190cm in 2100), a wide range of scenarios for social and economic development (from a poor and overpopulated world to a rich and sustainable managed world) and varying assumption on intergenerational climate change cost sharing. ”

The scientists conducted local cost-benefit analysis of coastal protection for over 12,000 coastal segments covering the complete coastline of the world. For each analysis 125 combinations of sea-level rise, socio-economic development and intergenerational climate change cost sharing scenarios have been considered. While only for 13 percent of the global coastline it was found that, under every scenario combination considered, investment in coastal protection costs less then the damages resulting from not protecting the coast, this small fraction of the global coastline accounts for 90 percent of today’s global floodplain population and for 96 percent of today’s global floodplain assets. Opposite that for 65 percent of the global coastline covering only 0.2 percent of global floodplain population and 0.2 percent of global floodplain assets investment in coastal protection costs more then the damages resulting from not protecting the coast under every scenario combination considered.

“Our results shows that the majority of coastal inhabitants lives in densely-populated and urban coastal areas, and is likely to (continue to) protect itself even under high-end sea-level rise. This is due to the high benefit-cost ratios of coastal protection in these areas. On the other hand, poorer rural areas will struggle to maintain safe human settlements and are likely to eventually retreat from the coast” adds co-author Jochen Hinkel from GCF. “Nevertheless, our study shows that there is a considerable opportunity to bridge the 21st century coastal adaptation finance gap for a large part of the world’s coastal population.”

Article: Daniel Lincke, Jochen Hinkel (2018): Economically robust protection against 21st century sea-level rise. Global Environmental Change 51, July 2018, Pages 67–73.


Report: Digitalisation of the energy transition

To achieve the desired decarbonisation of the German economy, a stronger integration of the electricity, heat and transport sectors is needed.
Digitalisation can play a key role in this process, e.g. in the fields of energy efficiency and the integration of renewables. The legal framework for the digitalization of the energy transition, is currently being developed. This short study of GCF and GeSI gives an overview of the current status of legislation and policy that link the digital and the energy world. In addition, the study assesses where the legal framework is already well developed and where adjustments are necessary.

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A stag hunt for green investment

To achieve the goal of keeping global warming well below 2 °C, private investors have to shift capital from brown to green infrastructures and technologies and provide additional green investment. In this paper, we present a game-theoretic perspective on the challenge of triggering such investments. The question of climate change mitigation is often related to the prisoner’s dilemma, a game with one Nash equilibrium. However, the authors perceive investment for mitigation and adaptation as a coordination problem of selecting among multiple equilibria. To illustrate this, we model a non-cooperative coordination game, related to the stag hunt, with a brown equilibrium with lower payoffs that can be achieved single-handedly and a green equilibrium with higher payoffs that requires coordination.

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Mobilising Private Finance for Coastal Adaptation

The role of private finance in meeting adaptation infrastructure investment needs has been widely emphasised in climate policy debates. This new paper Mobilising private finance for coastal adaptation: a literature review in WIREs Climate Change reviews the scientific literature on the issue. The paper thus provides a perspective from the current literature on the questions of what promotes private investment in coastal adaptation and how can public actors’ interest in adaptation be aligned with private investor interests. Read more

The Role of Sustainable Investment in Climate Policy

Reaching the Sustainable Development Goals requires a fundamental socio-economic transformation accompanied by substantial investment in low-carbon infrastructure. Such a sustainability transition represents a non-marginal change, driven by behavioral factors and systemic interactions.
However, typical economic models used to assess a sustainability transition focus on marginal changes around a local optimum, which—by construction—lead to negative effects. Thus, these models do not allow evaluating a sustainability transition that might have substantial positive effects. This paper examines which mechanisms need to be included in a standard computable general equilibrium model to overcome these limitations and to give a more comprehensive view of the effects of climate change mitigation.

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Ideals, practices, and future prospects of stakeholder involvement in sustainability science

This paper recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences evaluates current stakeholder involvement (SI) practices in science through a web-based survey among scholars and researchers engaged in sustainability or transition research. It substantiates previous conceptual work with evidence from practice by building on four ideal types of SI in science. The results give an interesting overview of the varied landscape of SI in sustainability science, ranging from the kinds of topics scientists work on with stakeholders, over scientific trade-offs that arise in the field, to improvements scientists wish for. Furthermore, the authors describe a discrepancy between scientists’ ideals and practices when working with stakeholders. On the conceptual level, the data reflect that the democratic type of SI is the predominant one concerning questions on the understanding of science, the main goal, the stage of involvement in the research process, and the science–policy interface. The fact that respondents expressed agreement to several types shows they are guided by multiple and partly conflicting ideals when working with stakeholders. We thus conclude that more conceptual exchange between practitioners, as well as more qualitative research on the concepts behind practices, is needed to better understand the stakeholder–scientist nexus.

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A climate stress-test of the financial system

An article, published in the journal “Nature Climate Change” on March 27th 2017. The authors, Stefano Battiston, Antoine Mandel, Irene Monasterolo, Franziska Schütze and Gabriele Visentin, have developed a “climate stress-test” of the financial system. The analysis looks beyond the fossil fuel and utility sector, by including energy-intensive sectors as well as indirect effects, and it differentiates between different types of investor.

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A Green Investment Impulse for Europe – 12 Recommendations for Green Growth and Successful Energy Transition

The transformations in various sectors required for the energy transition pose major challenges to political, economic and civil society actors: business models need to be reoriented and new technologies developed or implemented. Sustainable decarbonisation, which requires the success of the energy transition, also requires high levels of public and private investment which is difficult in times of weak economic growth in Europe. At the same time, there are opportunities for companies to engage in new markets with green business models. In addition, new players are emerging, for example due to digitization processes. In the course of a changed actor landscape, new possibilities for cooperation are being created that can enable green growth and simultaneously support the energy transition. Read more

Adaptation requires overcoming social conflicts

A Perspective article, published by the Global Climate Forum in the journal Nature Climate Change, highlights that overcoming social conflicts associated to shared resources will be key in adapting to the impacts of climate change. The article shows that decades of research on the commons, resources belonging to or affecting entire communities and most well-known through the work of Nobel Prize winning economist Elinor Ostrom, has accumulated promising ways forward for societies to overcome such conflicts. Read more

A Green Corridor for Europe – Connecting the EU and the Balkans

The history of Europe is strongly and often dramatically interwoven with that of the Balkans. Presently, the nexus between Europe and the Balkans is acquiring new relevance due to sluggish growth and rising regional disparities across Europe, to diverging national interests exacerbated by the migrant crisis, and to the prospect of the Chinese “one belt, one road” initiative reaching South-East Europe. This report investigates the possibility of a Green Corridor linking Europe and the Balkans through a multimodal infrastructure for the transport of people, goods, energy and information. As a first step, the present background paper looks at the Western Balkans in this perspective. We show that this region is faced with enormous development challenges, including a population whose skills hardly match the needs and opportunities of the present world economy, a very low, sometimes even negative savings rate, weak and sometimes dysfunctional institutions, and more. We then show that infrastructure investments are badly needed in the Western Balkans, be it for transport of people and goods, of information and of electricity. Next, we survey the considerable toolbox that the EU has developed to intensify cooperation with this part of the Balkans. Against this background, two things become quite clear. First, the Green Corridor idea looks both necessary and feasible. And second, to really make a difference, this kind of infrastructure investment can and should target the greater Balkans, including not only the Western Balkans, but also Romania, Bulgaria and Greece. Along these lines, it can offer the Western Balkans a badly needed future of stability and prosperity.

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