Urban areas are increasingly at risk from climate change, with negative impacts predicted for human health, the economy and ecosystems 1,2. These risks require responses from cities to improve their resilience. Policymakers need to understand current adaptation spend to plan comprehensively and effectively. Through the measurement of spend in the newly defined ‘adaptation economy’, we analyse current climate change adaptation efforts in ten mega-cities. In all cases, the adaptation economy remains a small part of the overall economy, representing a maximum of 0.33% of a city’s gross domestic product (here referred to as GDPc). Differences in total spend are significant between cities in developed, emerging and developing countries, ranging from £15 million to £1,600 million. Comparing key sub-sectors, we demonstrate the differences in adaptation profiles. Developing cities have higher proportional spend on health and agriculture, whereas developed cities have higher spend on energy and water. Spend per capita and percentage of GDPc comparisons more clearly show disparities between cities. Developing country cities spend half the proportion of GDPc and significantly less per capita, suggesting that adaptation spend is driven by wealth rather than the number of vulnerable people. This indicates that current adaptation activities are insuficient in major population centres in developing and emerging economies.

Source: Lucien Georgeson, Mark Maslin, Martyn; Poessinouw and Steve Howard. PUBLISHED ONLINE: 29 FEBRUARY 2016 DOI: 10.1038/NCLIMATE2944
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