Distributional Impacts of Climate Change and Disasters

Distributional Impacts of Climate Change and Disasters

Concepts and Cases

New Horizons in Environmental Economics series

Edited by Matthias Ruth and María E. Ibarrarán

Climate change tends to increase the frequency and intensity of weather-related disasters, which puts many people at risk. Economic, social and environmental impacts further increase vulnerability to disasters and tend to set back development, destroy livelihoods, and increase disparity nationally and worldwide. This book addresses the differential vulnerability of people and places, introducing concepts and methods for analysis and illustrating the impact on local, regional, national, and global scales.

Chapter 2: Vulnerability, Sensitivity and Coping/Adapting Capacity Worldwide

Elizabeth Malone and Antoinette Brenkert

Subjects: development studies, development studies, economics and finance, environmental economics, regional economics, valuation, environment, disasters, environmental economics, valuation, urban and regional studies, regional economics


Elizabeth Malone and Antoinette Brenkert INTRODUCTION Tension exists between the need to conduct global analyses of climate change and the likely highly differentiated small-scale impacts of climate change. Because of the global nature of the issue – neither greenhouse gas concentrations nor global climate are regional or local phenomena – studies of greenhouse gas emissions and their impacts on the climate are essential to define the scope of the issue, especially to address issues of potential mitigation. However, since climatic impacts on natural and socio-economic systems are likely to be felt and responded to at regional and local levels, the heterogeneous conditions of individual societies necessitate more localized studies. Furthermore, the impacts of climate change will be different within any particular society, since rights and resources are unevenly distributed. Responses to the question of the appropriate research level – global, regional/country or local – have generally used one of two prevailing approaches. One approach is to conduct highly aggregated, quantitative studies of emissions and concentration levels. A second approach is to conduct disaggregated, often purely qualitative, case studies of single countries or localities. These different approaches have opened two gaps: an inability to compare countries and regions with regard to their resilience to climate change impacts, and a lack of studies that account for societal inequalities that will themselves be affected unequally by climate change. These gaps prevent decision-makers from carefully weighing options that have short- and long-term implications. Analyzing the relationships between exposure and sensitivity to climate change and climate variability, in addition...

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