Assessing climate change adaptation options for local government

S. Trueck*, W. Bradford, A. Henderson-Sellers, S. Mathew, Joel Scott, M. Street, R. Taplin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Uncertainty in the prediction of low probability high-impact climate events makes it difficult for local governments to foresee locality specific climate risks, prioritise policy options and implement suitable actions for the future. Climate projections and economic evaluation need to be available at the local levels (scales of a few tens of kilometres at most) to ensure local climate investment actions. Observations of the historical climate impacts at local scales could give a probability distribution that could be projected into the future using new information and expert opinions. This research describes the early stages of a study of the adaptation options for local government authority, based on available climate information and perceptions of the local community. In our overview we concentrate on the following key issues and questions:

i. Review of the literature on economic modelling of adaptation strategies at the local scale

ii. A description of the legal background and the quadruple bottom line (QBL) approach that can be used to evaluate potential adaptation strategies for local governments

iii. How to quantify and evaluate losses from climate change impact related hazards at the local scale

iv. The adequate choice of discount rate for economic analysis.

Our findings are that to date there have been surprisingly few studies at the local level on the economic cost of mitigation and adaptation to climate change effects. We suggest that valuing the non-monetary impacts of climate change via Quadruple Bottom Line analysis considering the social, economic, environment and governance dimensions could be a method to identify the appropriate importance of each impact category. We further suggest the use of the so-called Loss Distribution Approach (LDA) in combination with expert judgements and discounted present value analysis as a potential framework for modelling the losses from climate change impacted hazards at the local scale. For the choice of the optimal discount rate we suggest for the financial dimension to use the cost of capital for local governments while for the social discount rate it might be appropriate to use clearly lower discount rates as they are suggested - for example in the reports by Stern (2006) and Garnaut (2008).

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationClimate alert
Subtitle of host publicationclimate change monitoring and strategy
EditorsY. You, A. Henderson-Sellers
Place of PublicationSydney, Australia
Number of pages38
ISBN (Electronic)9781920899417
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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