COIN - Cost of Inaction

“What are the costs arising from climate change in Austria, if we fail to adapt?” This is the key question raised by the COIN (COst of INaction) project which is supported by the Austrian Federal Government’s Climate and Energy Fund in the context of the Austrian Climate Research Program (ACRP). The answer to this question is of importance to policy makers as well as to businesses and private households, because what ultimately matters is that we carefully consider the measures which need to be taken to keep climate change costs as low as possible. For this purpose, a consortium of twelve Austrian research institutions investigates the range of additional costs and benefits that will arise from climate change (without plans for adaptation) over the next decades, up until the year 2100. With regard to potential impacts of climate change, the project focuses on 13 areas and fields of activity throughout Austrian society and economy:

  • agriculture
  • forestry
  • human health
  • ecosystems and biodiversity
  • water supply
  • electricity
  • building and living
  • heating and cooling
  • transport and mobility
  • manufacturing and trade
  • natural disaster management
  • urban spaces
  • tourism

To quantify the costs and benefits, the COIN project has, on the one hand, developed economic methods for assessing climate change impact and, on the other hand, it has identified the climate conditions which cause costs to arise in the individual areas and fields of activity. Thus, an increase in heat waves such as that of 2003 and its implications for human health can lead to increasing costs for the health care and disaster management system, especially for elderly and sick people. To provide a comprehensive overview of the potential costs, the twelve areas are not only considered individually. Road damage caused, e.g., by mud slides does not only cause direct repair costs. It also leads to interruptions of passenger and freight transport, which, in turn, can lead to loss of industrial production. Correspondingly, loss of production in agriculture or forestry also leads to losses in further processing sectors. COIN outlines these interdependencies and consequential effects so as to permit an estimation of all costs – direct and indirect.

All COIN results have been made available for an academic audience in an internationally peer-reviewed publication (Steininger, K., König, M., Bednar-Friedl, B., Kranzl, L., Loibl, W., Prettenthaler, F. (eds.) (2015), Economic Evaluation of Climate Change Impacts: Development of a Cross-Sectoral Framework and Results for Austria. Berlin: Springer). Additionally, COIN has made a summary of the project results available to the interested public and to decision makers. These summaries have been published in the form of fact sheets.

Upon successful completion of the project, the COIN results were presented by Andrä Rupprechter, Austrian Minister for Agriculture, Forestry, the Environment, and Water Management, at a press conference on 15 January 2015. On 22 January 2015, a stakeholder workshop took place in which the findings were discussed.

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