Global costs of protecting against sea-level rise at 1.5 to 4.0 °C

Sally Brown, Katie Jenkins, Philip Goodwin, Daniel Lincke, Athanasios T. Vafeidis, Richard S. J. Tol, Rhosanna Jenkins, Rachel Warren, Robert J. Nicholls, Svetlana Jevrejeva, Agustin Sanchez Arcilla, Ivan D. Haigh

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Sea levels will rise, even with stringent climate change mitigation. Mitigation will slow the rate of rise. There is limited knowledge on how the costs of coastal protection vary with alternative global warming levels of 1.5 to 4.0 °C. Analysing six sea-level rise scenarios (0.74 to 1.09 m, 50th percentile) across these warming levels, and five Shared Socioeconomic Pathways, this paper quantifies the economic costs of flooding and protection due to sea-level rise using the Dynamic Interactive Vulnerability Assessment (DIVA) modelling framework. Results are presented for World Bank income groups and five selected countries from the present to 2100. Annual sea flood damage costs without additional adaptation are more influenced by socio-economic development than sea-level rise, indicating that there are opportunities to control risk with development choices. In contrast, annual sea dike investment costs are more dependent on the magnitude of sea-level rise. In terms of total costs with adaptation, upper middle, low middle and low income groups are projected to have higher relative costs as a proportion of GDP compared with high income groups. If low income countries protected now, flood costs could be reduced after 2050 and beyond. However, without further adaptation, their coasts will experience growing risks and costs leaving them increasingly reliant on emergency response measures. Without mitigation or adaptation, greater inequalities in damage costs between income groups could result. At country level, annual sea flood damage costs without additional adaptation are projected to rapidly increase with approximately 0.2 m of sea-level rise, leaving limited time to plan and adapt.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4
Number of pages21
JournalClimatic Change
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jul 2021


  • Adaptation
  • Cost
  • Damage
  • Dike
  • Sea-level rise

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