San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Climate change causes $1.1 billion in losses in Costa Rica, study finds

A recent study released by Costa Rican officials shows that the country has accumulated approximately $1.13 billion in losses due to climate change from 2005 to 2011, primarily along coastal areas.

The investigation was based on a report by climate change expert Roberto Flores about how to adapt to climate change. The study was released Sunday in the weekly business newspaper El Financiero.

Rural areas were hit the hardest, and 50 percent of damages affected highway infrastructure. The other damages were distributed between agriculture (16.7 percent), flood control and similar construction projects (13 percent) and homes (12.2 percent).

Puntarenas, on Costa Rica’s central Pacific, is the province most affected by climate change, with damages in the six-year period reaching $164.5 million.

Flores, the head of climate change at the Agriculture and Livestock Ministry’s Planning Department, said that the study used data primarily from the National Emergency Commission.

William Alpízar, director of climate change at the Environment Ministry, told the weekly newspaper that the phenomenon’s primary effects are increased precipitation, more sickness and higher ocean levels.

These effects are reflected in the nearly $710 million lost due to hydrometeorological changes. For Walter Vergara, an expert in the field at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDP), Costa Rica needs to prioritize prevention, as estimates show that by the middle of the century damages from temperature increases in Latin America could increase to $100 million annually.

The IDP suggests that one out of every $4 of financing should be spent on prevention and adaptation.

On Sept. 19-20, Costa Rica will host an important Climate Vulnerability Forum with the environment ministers of 20 countries, who will gather at the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center in the Caribbean slope city of Turrialba.

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