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Focusing on differences across scenarios could lead to bad adaptation policy advice


As development and adaptation are closely intertwined, assessing the benefits of adaptation by focusing only on how it reduces climate impacts could lead to misleading policy advice. In some cases, trying to minimize climate impacts could lead to inferior outcomes. It is preferable to explore how policies influence the absolute level of metrics of interest in scenarios with climate change rather than to focus on how they influence incremental climate impacts.

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Fig. 1: Schematic representation of how scenarios are involved to assess the impact of a climate adaptation policy.
Fig. 2: Agreeing and opposing impacts of various development variables.

Data availability

The simulation results data that support the analysis in and findings of this study can be accessed at Source data are provided with this paper.

Code availability

The code behind the analysis and the code to generate Fig. 2 can be accessed at


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We thank the RKR-Living standards group from Working Group II of the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (Chapter 16), who inspired us to initiate this study. We also thank J. Rentschler for his valuable inputs to an earlier version of this manuscript.

Author information




S.H. conceived the study and designed it with B.A.J. and J.R. jointly. J.R. conducted the simulation experimentation. B.A.J. performed the analysis and wrote an initial draft of the manuscript. All the authors contributed to the further writing and editing of the manuscript as well as responding to referees.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Bramka Arga Jafino.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Peer review information Nature Climate Change thanks Francis Dennig and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary information

Source data

Source Data Fig. 2

Categorical data for each country as presented in Fig. 2.

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Jafino, B.A., Hallegatte, S. & Rozenberg, J. Focusing on differences across scenarios could lead to bad adaptation policy advice. Nat. Clim. Chang. 11, 394–396 (2021).

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