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.

Extreme weather events can result in significant costs across a range of local authority services. Research indicates that extreme events will increase both in frequency and intensity with a changing climate, so it is critical to explore the cost and benefit of different adaptation responses. This will help decision makers draw the impact of climate change into planning and management processes.

This project is focused on understanding the costs of risk management, and how capturing current costs is a key element in making decisions for the future, e.g. risk management based on climate projections (2040s or 2050s).

First we explored the evidence for weather-related expenditure by Aberdeenshire Council over the past five years. We found that there were financial impacts but that the available data can provide a very limited indication of the true costs. 
Read the report Weather related costs to Aberdeenshire Council

A second phase concentrated on what lessons we could learn from the flood ‘event’ during the winter of 2015/2016. The project explored the costs of dealing with the impact of the flooding, and suggested possible tools to support better informed decision-making. 
Read the report Counting the costs of extreme events – an Aberdeenshire case study

The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 places a duty on all public bodies in Scotland to contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation when carrying out their functions. This research will inform best practice across local authorities and the broader public sector in Scotland.