Adaptation to climate change: strategy and policy

Today The Dutch General Court of Audit (de Algemene Rekenkamer) published its report on climate change. It seems obvious that crucial connections between area’s of policy and countries are missing, long term insights remain unclear and that risks are increasing and emerging from there.This report is actually a call for creating connections. The conclusions (quote):

Not all climate risks covered by policy
Successive governments have taken steps in recent years to adapt the Netherlands to climate change. But the policy implemented (including the Delta Programme) concentrates on flood safety and spatial planning. It does not cover all areas that are vulnerable to climate change. Risk and vulnerability analyses are regularly carried out of the weaknesses in the climate resilience of the Netherlands. In some areas, however, the effects of climate change have not been properly analysed. These areas include health, energy, transport and recreation. Insight into the risks and vulnerabilities in these areas is therefore lacking. Individual studies by knowledge and research centres, moreover, often do not consider the common ground between the areas. (Do the effects strengthen each other? What consequences does adaptation policy in sector x have on sector y?) The absence of a comprehensive climate adaptation policy means there is a risk of the country being ill prepared for the consequences of climate change.

Climate adaptation policy not coordinated, monitored or evaluated
With the exception of the Delta Programme, climate adaptation policy as a whole is not coordinated by a minister. Parts of the national climate adaptation policy are therefore not aligned to each other. This entails the risk that measures overlap each other or can have undesirable side effects in other areas. Lack of coordination also means certain issues may be overlooked or ignored. Furthermore, climate adaptation policy is not monitored or evaluated even though the government had undertaken to the House of Representatives in 2007 that it would be.

Costs increased by delays
We also identified a financial risk. If measures in many areas are not taken until a late stage, their cost will be far higher. Buildings, roads, railways, energy systems and sewer systems, for example, last for tens of years and are expensive to replace. It is cheaper and more effective to design in climate change now. Delaying measures makes adaptation more difficult and more expensive.

Consistency with European policy: matter for concern
If the government does not develop and implement a national climate adaptation policy in the near future, there is a risk that the Netherlands will get out of step with European policy and policy in other EU member states. Adaptation to climate change is enjoying greater priority in European policy. Member states, including the Netherlands, will increasingly be urged to take measures and make investments. Some European countries facing similar challenges as the Netherlands are already implementing broad and coherent national adaptation policies. Read more >