The European Commission (EC 2009, 6) states in its White Paper on Adaptation that “Although more specific information on the costs of adaptation is needed, several sources [like the Stern Review] already indicate that the costs of taking action to address climate change (including mitigation and adaptation measures) will be much lower than the costs of inaction over the medium to long term.” Yet, despite this recognition at the practical level, there is insufficient knowledge on the actual costs of concrete adaptation options at the EU, national and local level. Moreover, according to Markandya and Watkiss (2009), the economics of adaptation and adaptation costing remain in their infancy, as they generally provide either very coarse aggregate estimates (e.g. WHO, OECD, Stern, ….) or provide case study numbers which lack accurate upscaling to national levels. This evidence holds also for Austria: the national adaptation strategy (NAS) describes more than 200 adaptation measures but does not provide cost estimates and research projects so far have primarily focused on costing of climate change impacts and only very selectively dealt with adaptation options.
In addressing the specific field “public adaptation”, the project PACINAS deals therefore with the important question of potential (planned) public adaptation costs and benefits with regard to implementing the Austrian Adaptation Strategy (NAS), which in turn play a crucial role for public finances and thus will strengthen the ability to take sound adaptation decisions for adequate and cost-effective adaptation activities and measures. Public adaptation will be understood in this project as those adaptation options that are undertaken or induced by government action, because the state is in the role of the owner (e.g. of infrastructure), because significant social organization is required (e.g. for flood protection), or because adaptation undertaken by private actors need to be facilitated by the provision of public goods (e.g. adjustment to regulatory framework, information provision).
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