The Economic Cost of Climate Change in Europe: Synthesis Report on COACCH Interim Results

Submitted by Christina Daszkiewicz | published 31st Jan 2020 | last updated 5th Jan 2023
Boats on dry land


Climate change will lead to economic costs. These costs, which are often known as the ‘costs of inaction’, provide key inputs to the policy debate on climate risks, mitigation and adaptation.

The objective of the COACCH project (COdesigning the Assessment of Climate CHange costs) is to produce an improved downscaled assessment of the risks and costs of climate change in Europe. The project is proactively involving stakeholders in co-design, coproduction and co-dissemination, to produce research that is of direct use to end users from the research, business, investment and policy making communities.

This document synthesises the latest results from the COACCH project on the economic costs of climate change in Europe and identifies areas of possible discussion to explore with stakeholders at the second COACCH workshop.

*Download the full publication from the right-hand column. A summary of the key messages from the case study are provided below. See the full text for more details.

COACCH Results: Sector Economic Costs

The COACCH project has produced new sector estimates of the economic costs of climate change. This has been undertaken for the following sectors:

Coastal flooding, river flooding, business, services and industry, energy, transport, agriculture, forestry and fisheries, biodiversity and ecosystem services, macroeconomics, growth and competitiveness, climate tipping points, socio-economic tipping points, flood insurance affordability in Europe, sea-level rise and coastal migration, food production shocks.

More details about the estimates can be found in the report. Where possible, results are reported as the combined impacts of future climate and socio-economic change together, along with a commentary on the importance of climate versus socio-economics in the estimates. In some sectors, early analysis of the costs and benefits of adaptation has been assessed.

Socio-Economic Tipping Points

The COACCH project has developed a new concept of socio-economic tipping points (SETP). This idea recognises that even gradual climate change may abruptly and significantly alter the functioning of socio-economic systems, which can lead to major economic costs. These changes may arise directly in Europe, but may also involve global events that subsequently spill-into into Europe.

Typology of tipping point in different branches of literature, from p.21 of the report.

The analysis of SETP has been undertaken for

  • Flood insurance affordability in Europe
  • Sea-level rise and coastal migration
  • Food Production Shocks

The early work on the COACCH project has identified that there are potentially important socio-economic tipping points, from subcontinental to local scale, that could affect Europe. These are more difficult to characterise than climate tipping points, and are often the result of complex socio-economic and climate drivers, as well as policy responses, but they could be significant in economic terms.  Early findings are

  • The early COACCH results have found that smaller-scale socio-economic tipping points are likely to happen earlier and with greater certainty, but there are also potential major events that could occur in Europe.
  • A further finding is that these socio-economic tipping points often have strong distributional patterns, i.e. for specific regions of Europe or particular groups. While it is difficult to assign the likelihood of these events, the modelling shows these events are associated with high-end (RCP8.5) scenarios, though also sometimes at lower warming scenarios.
  • Importantly, these events are currently omitted in policy discussions and further consideration of them is considered a priority.

Further resources

  • The COACCH project is co-ordinated by Fondazione Centro Euro-Mediterraneo Sui Cambiamenti Climatici (FONDAZIONE CMCC), Italy.  For further information on the project, contact Franceso Bosello (CMCC):

    Contributing authors and reviewers:

    • Paul Watkiss, Jenny Troeltzsch, Katriona McGlade, Michelle Watkiss (Editors)
    • Paul Watkiss, Alistair Hunt, Michelle Watkiss, PWA.
    • Jenny Troeltzsch, Katriona McGlade, Jack Tarpey, Ecologic Insitute.
    • Daniel Lincke, Jochen Hinkel, Global Climate Forum.
    • Wouter Botzen, Onno Kuik, Predrag Ignjacevic, Max Tesselaar, VU.
    • Ad Jeuken, Kees van Ginkel, Deltares.
    • Franceso Bosello, Shouro Dasgupta, CMCC.
    • Jessie Ruth Schleypen, Climate Analytics.
    • Birgit Bednar-Friedl, Stefan Borsky, Nina Knittel, Karl Steininger, Gabriel Bachner, Martin Jury, University of Graz.
    • Milan Ščasný, Iva Zverinová, Levan Bezhanishvili, CUNI.
    • Esther Boere, Petr Havlik, Miroslav Batka, Dmitry Schepaschenko, Anatoly Shvidenko, Oskar Franklin, IIASA.
    • Benjamin Leon Bodirsky, PIK.
    • Elisa Sainz de Murieta, Aline Chiabai, Marc Neumann, Joseph Spadaro, BC3.
    • Andries Hof, Detlef van Vuuren, PBL.

    Suggested citation

    COACCH (2019). The Economic Cost of Climate Change in Europe: Synthesis Report on Interim Results. Policy brief by the COACCH project. Editors: Paul Watkiss, Jenny Troeltzsch, Katriona McGlade, Michelle Watkiss. Published October, 2019.


    Related Articles