Owing to their high vulnerability and low adaptive capacity, Caribbean islands have legitimate concerns about their future, based on observational records, experience with current patterns and consequences of climate variability, and climate model projections. Although emitting less than 1% of global greenhouse gases, islands from the region have already perceived a need to reallocate scarce resources away from economic development and poverty reduction, and towards the implementation of strategies to adapt to the growing threats posed by global warming (Nurse and Moore, 2005).
The objectives of this Report are to conduct economic analyses of the projected impacts of climate change to 2050, within the context of the IPCC A2 and B2 scenarios, on the coastal and marine resources of the British Virgin Islands (BVI). The Report presents a valuation of coastal and marine services; quantitative and qualitative estimates of climate change impacts on the coastal zone; and recommendations of possible adaptation strategies and costs and benefits of adaptation.
A multi-pronged approach is employed in valuing the marine and coastal sector. Direct use and indirect use values are estimated. The amount of economic activity an ecosystem service generates in the local economy underpins estimation of direct use values. Tourism and fisheries are valued using the framework developed by the World Resources Institute. Biodiversity is valued in terms of the ecological functions it provides, such as climate regulation, shoreline protection, water supply erosion control and sediment retention, and biological control, among others.
Estimates of future losses to the coastal zone from climate change are determined by considering: (1) the effect of sea level rise on coastal lands; and (2) the effect of a rise in sea surface temperature (SST) on coastal waters. Discount rates of 1%, 2% and 4% are employed to analyse all loss estimates in present value terms.
The overall value for the coastal and marine sector is USD $1,606 million (mn). This is almost 2% larger than BVI’s 2008 GDP. Tourism and recreation comprise almost two-thirds of the value of the sector.
By 2100, the effects of climate change on coastal lands are projected to be $3,988.6 mn, and $2,832.9 mn under the A2 and B2 scenarios respectively. In present value terms, if A2 occurs, losses range from $108.1-$1,596.8 mn and if B2 occurs, losses range from $74.1-$1,094.1 mn, depending on the discount rate used. Estimated costs of a rise in SST in 2050 indicate that they vary between $1,178.0 and $1,884.8 mn. Assuming a discount rate of 4%, losses range from $226.6 mn for the B2 scenario to $363.0 mn for the A2 scenario. If a discount rate of 1% is assumed, estimated losses are much greater, ranging from $775.6-$1,241.0 mn.
Factoring in projected climate change impacts, the net value of the coastal and marine sector suggests that the costs of climate change significantly reduce the value of the sector, particularly under the A2 and B2 climate change scenarios for discount rates of 1% and 2%. In contrast, the sector has a large, positive, though declining trajectory, for all years when a 4% discount rate is employed. Since the BVI emits minimal greenhouse gases, but will be greatly affected by climate change, the report focuses on adaptation as opposed to mitigation strategies. The options shortlisted are: (1) enhancing monitoring of all coastal waters to provide early warning alerts of bleaching and other marine events; (2) introducing artificial reefs or fish-aggregating devices; (3) introducing alternative tourist attractions; (4) providing retraining for displaced tourism workers; and (5) revising policies related to financing national tourism offices to accommodate the new climatic realities. All adaptation options considered are quite justifiable in national terms; each had benefit-cost ratios greater than 1.