The double trade-off between adaptation and mitigation for sea level rise: an application of FUND

  • Richard S. J. TolEmail author
Original Article


This paper studies the effects of adaptation and mitigation on the impacts of sea level rise. Without adaptation, the impact of sea level rise would be substantial, almost wiping out entire countries by 2100, although the globally aggregate effect is much smaller. Adaptation would reduce potential impacts by a factor 10–100. Adaptation would come at a minor cost compared to the damage avoided. As adaptation depends on socio-economic status, the rank order of most vulnerable countries is different than the rank order of most exposed countries. Because the momentum of sea level rise is so large, mitigation can reduce impacts only to a limited extent. Stabilising carbon dioxide concentrations at 550 ppm would cut impacts in 2100 by about 10%. However, the costs of emission reduction lower the avoided impacts by up to 25% (average 10%). This is partly due to the reduced availability of resources for adaptation, and partly due to the increased sensitivity to wetland loss by adaptation.


Adaptation Mitigation Sea level rise 



Comments by three anonymous referees and discussions with Robert Nicholls helped improve this paper. The CEC DG Research Fifth Framework Programme through the DINAS-Coast project (EVK2-2000-22024), the US National Science Foundation through the Center for Integrated Study of the Human Dimensions of Global Change (SBR-9521914) and the Michael Otto Foundation for Environmental Protection provided welcome financial support. All errors and opinions are mine.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Unit Sustainability and Global Change, Centre for Marine and Atmospheric SciencesEconomic and Social Research InstituteHamburgGermany
  2. 2.Institute for Environmental StudiesVrije UniversiteitAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Center for Integrated Study of the Human Dimensions of Global ChangeCarnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburghUSA
  4. 4.DublinIreland

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