Sea level rise – linked to floods and disasters associated with that increase – is one of the most important challenges associated to climate change. The action of man has contributed to this warming the emission for decades of greenhouse gases, according to conclude most of the scientists. The link between man and climate change is also defended by the vast majority of international institutions, such as the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), which has been warning of the economic risks of warming for years. The OECD has presented on Wednesday a specific report on the rise in sea level and its impacts in which it warns of the multimillionaires costs that will involve ignoring this problem.
Specific, the OECD study warns that if adaptation measures are not taken and the sea level increases by 1.3 meters, the annual damages caused by coastal disasters will represent 4% of world GDP, which would be equivalent to an annual cost of 50 billion dollars (about 44 billions of euros) at the end of the century. Although this institution adds that economic impact can be reduced two or three times if these measures are taken to protect the population and infrastructure.
Rodolfo Lacy, director of the area of environment of the OECD, explains in the study that the scientific reports suggest that it is almost certain that it will reach a meter of sea level rise during this century. And that will mean important consequences such as damage to infrastructure, loss of land and displacement of the population. And the rise in sea level seems irreversible due to the excess of greenhouse gases that already accumulates in the atmosphere. That is why it is necessary for States to adapt to the consequences of this rise in sea level.
The OECD, however, warns that measures to address the problem are being taken very slowly. Only five countries belonging to this organization have specific funds for this purpose. Among them are the great powers of Europe, not so Spain, according to the report presented on Wednesday. Germany has a fund of 550 million euros until 2025; The United Kingdom has established an investment program of 2,600 million pounds for the period 2015-2021; and France has contemplated 500 million euros for its national program.
The OECD points out that it is very likely that 13% of the entire coastline of the planet -92,500 kilometers- will be protected during this century, since it will be cheaper to do so than not. And this is basically because that 13% brings together 90% of the coastal population of the world and, thanks to that concentration, will be invested in defenses against the rise in sea level.
The other 10% of the world coastal population that lives scattered in rural areas will have the problem. As the organization recognizes, these areas, which are also poorer, will have to fight to maintain the settlements, although the populations "will probably be forced to withdraw from the coast."
The last major report of the IPCC – the panel of scientific experts that advises the United Nations on issues of climate change – concluded that up to 90% of quality water corals will be lost only with an increase in temperature of 1.5 degrees . And that will not only have consequences on the diversity of the planet.
The OECD report explains that coral reefs protect more than 100 million people worldwide from floods. And there are studies that calculate in more than 400 million dollars (353 million euros) the losses derived from the disappearance of the reefs only in Cuba, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico and the Philippines.