The coming avalanche of adaptation dollars

Dexter Gauntlett is a cleantech market research analyst with Pike Research, a part of Navigant Consulting Inc.

Dexter Gauntlett is a Portland-based cleantech research analyst with Navigant Research. Reach him at

Hopefully we're better at adapting to climate change than we are at preventing it.

An analysis conducted by Environmental Business International put the market for climate change adaptation services at $700 million in the United States and $2 billion globally, growing at 12-20 percent through 2020. Focusing on urban settings, the EBI report splits the climate change adaptation industry into three segments: climate risk assessment and analysis, climate adaptation planning and adaptation design, engineering and construction.

The EBI report is primarily focused on water-related industries, such as wastewater treatment, ports and sea walls, while ignoring many of the power-related opportunities that a broader definition would include. It therefore significantly understates the overall opportunity. Outside of urban settings, the United Nations has already created a Green Climate Fund to implement adaptation projects in the developing world (including mitigation), with a target of disbursing up to $100 billion per year by 2020. Since this would only be one funding mechanism, the adaptation services industry could be one of the largest industries in the world. Projects totaling $180 million have been funded to date through the U.N. mechanism alone. For comparison, Navigant Research valued the major cleantech electricity generation industries at $200 billion in 2012.

The Pacific Northwest is well positioned to capitalize on the coming avalanche of adaptation dollars spent on creating more resilient communities in the US and overseas. A number of private companies, including CH2M Hill, David Evans & Associates and ECONorthwest are already directly or indirectly providing adaptation services in the region and beyond. Dozens of cleantech, research and consulting firms, social enterprises and nonprofits in the region are similarly well positioned to bring in adaptation dollars from contracts within the U.S. and overseas.

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