Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke said: “It is more urgent than ever before to become independent of imports of fossil fuels and take climate action. Only with determined action on both accounts can we master the necessary adaptation to the climate crisis. The massive-scale expansion of renewable energies and the required adaptation of society, infrastructure and ecosystems is a grand challenge of the future. The Federal Government is taking resolute action on climate change adaptation. Our precautionary adaptation strategy will set clear targets and the Climate Change Act will provide a firm legal framework. Cities and municipalities will receive our support in their efforts in the form of expert advice, funding for local adaptation manager posts and funding for innovative projects and climate change adaptation in community-based services. The Immediate Action Programme for Climate Adaptation will add to the portfolio of existing measures. In addition to that, we are working towards lasting financing of climate change adaptation.”
Dirk Messner, President of the German Environment Agency (UBA), said: “The IPCC and our own analyses in Germany point out that climate change can impair the sources of livelihood of future generations in particular. In Germany, this affects all areas of life, especially in the event of strong climate change. This is very unsettling, which is why we must take swift, resolute climate action and implement climate change adaptation measures. The IPCC’s new report does however give reason to be hopeful: adaptation measures are increasingly being implemented worldwide and are most effective when carefully planned and in tune with the regional and local situation. In many regions of the world, including here in Germany, adaptation measures are already showing effect, for example more green spaces in cities or the restoration of rivers and streams to minimize flood damage. It is important that we take climate risks into account in all decisions concerning our future.”
The current IPCC report describes the consequences of the climate crisis in detail. Massive consequences are already visible in every region of the world and CO₂ emissions continue to rise worldwide. The impact of the climate crisis will affect people and ecosystems even if we take resolute new measures and limit warming to 1.5 °C. The catastrophic flooding in Germany in July 2021 cost some 180 people’s lives and caused immense damage to buildings and infrastructure which will take years to restore. Heavy rainfall and flooding are likely to become much more frequent in Germany, in particular in the event of severe climate change. These extreme weather events and the hot dry summers of recent years were mere harbingers of what is to come. The frequency and intensity of heat waves will increase. It will put stress on people in cities in particular and poses a serious threat to health.
The IPCC says that in addition to the dramatic evident effects there will be other subtle but nonetheless serious changes. This is also confirmed by the Climate Impact and Risk Assessment for Germany presented last summer. It said that ecosystems already under pressure are particularly sensitive to climate change, for example soil and forests, oceans, rivers and lakes. They are all under threat from drought, heavy rainfall and the steady rise in temperature. New pests and plant diseases are emerging and deteriorating water quality. Plants and animals are only able to adapt to a changed environment very slowly. Species loss is considerably accelerated by more rapid warming, making biodiversity another major loser in the climate crisis.
Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke said: “The losers of this development are not only nature but also mankind. Damage to ecosystems put economic survival at risk, for example agriculture and forestry. Climate change also jeopardises our health and that of future generations.”
Nature-based solutions in climate change adaptation such as restoration of waters or greening roofs, roads and public areas offer the additional benefit of protecting ecosystems and being a form of climate action themselves. These solutions are key to realising a sustainable and climate-resilient society, say both the IPCC and the Climate Impact and Risk Assessment 2021 for Germany.
The updated Environmental Awareness study by the Federal Ministry for the Environment and UBA shows that people see climate change adaptation as an urgent task: more than 90 percent of respondents agreed that climate change is already occurring, which is why adaptation measures are urgently necessary.” UBA’s President Dirk Messner said: “This is a clear mandate for policy makers at federal, Land and local level who must now enhance climate change adaptation policy and speed up the implementation of related measures. The Climate Impact and Risk Assessment 2021 for Germany shows that we can and must do a great deal in Germany. At the same time, it states that immediate action can effectively reduce many of the greatest climate risks.”
Local authorities are especially affected by storms, heavy rainfall or other extreme weather events. Mayors and district commissioners must be able to put in place the possible precautionary measures suited to local conditions. Many Land governments support heavy rainfall hazard mapping at municipal level. Mayors and district commissioners thus get information about possible weak spots where flash flooding could do special damage and be able to take appropriate precautionary measures if necessary.
The Federal Environment Ministry and the German Environment Agency support local authorities in Germany with funding, advisory services and capacity building:
- The German Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change (DAS) funding programme has long provided funding for local climate change adaptation projects (more information). The Federal Government has promoted and updated DAS since 2008.
- The focus of the new round of DAS funding which the Federal Environment Ministry launched in late 2021 is on the establishment of a systematic adaptation management in municipalities. Funding is provided for the drafting of a sustainable adaptation concept by local adaptation managers and for selected measures. Funding is also provided for innovative pilot projects.
- Community-based services, such as child daycare centres or retirement homes and nursing homes receive funding under a separate funding programme (more information).
- The Zentrum KlimaAnpassung (Climate Adaptation Centre) of the Federal Government is an institution which offers expert advice and capacity building to all local authorities (more information).
- Access to the knowledge exchange platform of KomPass - Climate Impacts and Adaptation in Germany at the German Environment Agency provides Land governments and local authorities with reliable information on which to base decision making (more information).
- The BMUV and UBA award the Blauer Kompass prize to municipalities for innovative climate change adaptation projects that can be replicated. Projects from four categories are eligible: municipalities, private and municipal enterprises, educational and research institutions as well as associations, federations and foundations. The deadline for applications for this year’s Blauer Kompass is 25 March 2022 (more information).