The promotion of adaptation frameworks based on costbenefit analysis

There is currently very little research at a local scale investigating the cost-effectiveness of options for adaptation in agriculture. While some organisations and reports (World Bank, 2006; UNFCCC, 2007; Stern, 2006) have developed large-scale studies assessing the likely costs of adaptation (loosely defined) at a global scale, systematic and policy-relevant estimates at a local sectoral level are lacking in agriculture. Even frameworks or methodology to enable this to be carried out are very limited. An exception is the UKCIP costing tool.1

Addressing the role of national and regional policy in facilitating or creating barriers for adaptation is an important area, as is the need to coordinate mitigation and adaptation planning, possibly by the development of inventories of the complementarities or conflicts between adaptation and mitigation measures. EU agri-environmental policies are potential vehicles for adaptation and mitigation actions; however, they can also create perverse incentives and barriers to both forms of action. Subsidies for water-intensive crops in Mediterranean areas where water is projected to become more scarce in future is one example. Disaster relief funds may encourage moral hazard and reduce the penetration of insurance into agricultural markets. A large-scale assessment of potentially perverse policies and those which facilitate adaptation and increase resilience in OECD countries (and beyond) is an area for further research.

Similarly, policies in other sectors may affect the ability of the agricultural sector to adapt to climate change. This is likely to occur predominantly in relation to changes in trade policy and global trading patterns, which again may create incentives to produce crops not suitable for the local conditions, or barriers to adaptation. An assessment of the types of external influences on the ability of agriculture to adapt to climate change would be very important.

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