There are a number of methods available for appraising adaptation decisions. This project introduces the concept of adaptation economics and reviews traditional and emerging analysis techniques, and gives examples of how they can be used.

Looking at how to do robust cost/benefit analysis is important in relation to adaptation policies, for example in making decisions about how to implement policies and proposals in the Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Programme (currently out for consultation). The analysis needs to take into account the considerable uncertainties relating to climate change.

Traditional economic approaches have limitations in how they measure cost/benefit of adaptation action.

Emerging techniques may be better suited to measuring the costs and benefits of adaptation, helping to:

  • prioritise action with limited resources
  • understand the consequences and costs of not adapting;
  • avoid over- and under-spend in adaptation; and
  • plan the best approach that also leaves options available in future.

Historically, climate change adaptation and mitigation have generally been treated separately, both in policy and in research. Mitigation has been the highest priority and has received the most attention, often driven by national and international policy commitments to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

This brief lists some important win-wins, conflicts and trade-offs between mitigation and adaptation policy objectives, both in Scotland and internationally. These examples highlight potential positive outcomes for Scottish adaptation and mitigation policies.