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Funding Adaptation

38 Pages Posted: 16 May 2014 Last revised: 14 Dec 2016

Jonathan D. Rosenbloom

Drake University Law School

Date Written: May 21, 2014


Adapting the built environment to the challenges of climate change will be expensive. This Article examines such costs that fall within the responsibility of local governments and that are relevant to the provision of public services. Specifically, this Article explores the challenges facing local governments when utilizing municipal bonds to fund adaptation and whether municipal bonds are an effective tool to achieve adaptation goals.

Climate change will stress many local government services, such as those services involving stormwater management, potable water, mass transit, waste disposal, and the development and distribution of energy. Faced with steep budget deficits, rising costs, and declining revenues, many local governments are not in a position to absorb the significant costs associated with reducing climate-related risks to these services. The actual and potential risk of sustaining catastrophic losses due to climate changes is such that failing to take steps to protect local infrastructure is not a rational option. Typically, local governments would finance large infrastructure projects by issuing municipal bonds. Based on the unique circumstances surrounding the adaptation of local infrastructure to alleviate climate-induced damage, this Article suggests that municipal bonds will be inadequate to fully fund local adaptation needs. The Article suggests local governments pursue alternative and creative financing methods to supplement the funding of adaptation. Alternatives explored in the conclusion incorporate public/private partnerships as a means of increasing available capital. The alternatives also reconfigure the process of infrastructure financing to account for externalities and ecosystem impacts in an effort to enhance resiliency in investment. The objective is to incentivize investment in adaptation projects and to facilitate the protection of vital local infrastructure necessary to build resilient communities.

Keywords: climate change, climate, adaptation, funding, municipal bonds, infrastructure, mitigation

Suggested Citation

Rosenbloom, Jonathan D., Funding Adaptation (May 21, 2014). 47 John Marshall Law Review 657 (2013). Available at SSRN:

Jonathan D. Rosenbloom (Contact Author)

Drake University Law School ( email )

27th & Carpenter Sts.
Des Moines, IA 50311
United States

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