Coastal adaptations to rising sea levels are negligibly inadequate • Earth.com

A new study warns that global coastal adaptations are dangerously inadequate to counter the impacts of climate change.

Solving these problems requires decisive action by the international policy community to identify global priorities in key risk areas, experts say.

Short term projects

„Despite adaptation in all regions and sectors, recent analyzes conclude that global action continues to escalate: policies and programs are generally short-sighted and single-risk focused, do not adequately address the root causes of exposure and vulnerability, and are poorly monitored,” said Prof. Robert Nicholls said University of East Anglia.

„There is also little evidence of effective risk reduction associated with implemented responses.”

Adaptation assessment

Lead author of the study, Dr. Alexandre Magnon is an expert at the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI).

„Assessing climate adaptation is a burning scientific and policy question, because today’s global climate risk will experience a two- to four-fold increase by the end of this century depending on the global greenhouse gas emission trajectory, so we need to know the current state with a view to addressing its consequences,” said Dr. Magnon. said.

„New, alternative methods of assessing adaptation are urgently needed to build effective planning and action, evidence of risk reduction, capacities and long-term vision.”

Current adaptation status

Based on 61 coastal case studies, the researchers provide a locally informed perspective on the current state of global coastal adaptation, addressing both extreme and gradual climate changes.

The study covers several effects such as coastal erosion, marine inundation, sea level rise, soil and groundwater salinity, inland flooding due to heavy rainfall and permafrost.

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Long term plans are lacking

The results revealed a significant difference between urban and rural areas. Although urban coastal areas seem to have more developed strategies, long-term plans are unclear in both sectors.

According to the researchers, global coastal adaptation efforts have reached only half of their full potential.

Low lying beaches

Highlighting the immediate danger of sea-level rise, the panel said risks to low-lying coastlines could already be identified.

„By the end of the century and in the absence of ambitious adaptation efforts, these risks will become significant, widespread and irreversible on coral reefs and Arctic coasts,” Professor Nicholls said.

„The low estimates for deltas are still a concern given the population sizes and economic importance of these geographies worldwide.”

Global Adaptation Progress Tracker

To better assess adaptation efforts, researchers have introduced the Global Adaptation Progress Tracker (GAP-Track). This tracker is consistent with the framework for global targets on adaptation established under the Paris Agreement in 2015.

„With the first iteration at COP28 in the United Arab Emirates, countries are still struggling to find a way to implement a global goal on adaptation and to conduct a Global Stocktag (GST) series aimed at jointly monitoring adaptation progress and gaps,” said Dr. Magnan.

„The multidimensional and locally based assessment developed in this study for coastal adaptation confirms the need to rigorously scale adaptation policy and action around the world, from local governments and stakeholders to the international climate policy arena.”

„We argue that the approach developed in this paper can play a decisive role in helping to refine both goals and priorities.”

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The study is published in the journal Natural climate change.

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