Costs and coasts: An empirical assessment of physical and institutional climate adaptation pathways

Authors: Cameron Fletcher, Bruce Taylor, Alicia Rambaldi, Ben Harman, Sonja Heyenga, Renuka Ganegodage, Felix Lipkin and Ryan McAllister
Year: 2013

While adaptation is more frequently coordinated and underwritten by policies, financing and responsibilities at state or national scales internationally, this analysis of six QLD coastal communities showed a focus on locally managed climate adaptation. The institutional analysis found that current governance structures in the case study areas exhibited a preference for incremental adaptation – historically tested defensive measures and extension of existing codes or practices to support accommodation of sea level rise and changing inundation regimes. While, incremental adaptation may not always provide sufficient protection against storm surge under future sea level rise scenarios it is, under present conditions, an institutionally-rational course of action. The analysis also found that current governance structures seem to be relying on an implicit ability to outsource or scale out capability to institutions outside local governments remit, such as the property market or insurance sector. While this is a recognised rational response from local actors operating in a multi-level governance structure, it does have implications for the types of adaptations being considered within the Australian system. This project also simulated likely storm surge events under sea level rise scenarios to estimate total costs of inundation across the case studies out to 2100. The potential benefits of adaptation (in terms of avoided damage costs) were then estimated for a range of adaptation options.

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