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Climate Change: Lack of Action Costs Up to 10x More Than Adaptation


A study supported by Sao Paulo Research Foundation forecasts that by 2100, the sea level at coastal city Santos, where Latin America’s biggest harbor is found, may become 45 cm higher, resulting to more frequent storm surges.

Moreover, its tides will have greater peaks, implying a higher probability of floods and erosion. a separate study entitled Project Metropolis came up with an estimated cost of $1.5 billion for damages if climate change adaptation is not implemented. That is five times higher than the cost required for effecting climate adaptation at $300 million.

This estimation is based on structural damages only. Considering other aspects of climate change’s aftermath would cost up to ten times higher than adapting to climate change. As José Marengo, coordinator of Project Metropolis, explains, “However, the cost could be underestimated at R$1.5 billion because the model only considers physical buildings and other structures, and the calculations are based on their imputed or taxable values. If we included losses in other areas, such as health and education, for example, the value would easily reach R$3 billion.”

Marengo further stresses on the importance of implementation, “Although scientists and decision makers must discuss adaptations, it has to be public policy. It must come from the government.

“It’s an action that cannot stop and obviously there must be an investment. Santos has achieved a high level of awareness, with a broad dialogue involving the public, decision makers, and academia. The construction projects must be implemented. The worst thing that could happen would be if it all stayed on the drawing-board.”

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