Adaptation at the Federal Level

the Reichstags dome behind plantsClick to enlarge
Adaptation to climate change is a major political issue.
Source: christophe papke /

Climate adaptation is a major political issue. With its adaptation strategy, the German federal government has established a framework for adaptation measures taken by different social actors. The strategy indicates which fields of action are of particular importance and which goals Germany pursues. The Adaptation Action Plan determines which measures the adaptation strategy shall entail.

The Development of the German Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change

The first reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) dating back to 2001 emphasised that climate change adaptation is an important element when coping with climate change. However, the topic hardly received any attention because most of the actors involved concentrated on climate protection measures. By now it is largely accepted that both climate protection and climate adaptation are necessary in order to be able to respond as adequately as possible to the challenges posed by climate change.
In 2005, the German federal policy took up the issue of climate change adaptation for the first time within the context of the federal government's climate protection programme. This programme intended to develop a nation-wide strategy to adapt to climate change. In order to support this process, „KomPass - Climate Impacts and Adaptation in Germany“ was established in the Federal Environment Agency in October 2006.

The development of the German Adaptation Strategy began in mid-2007 under the supervision of the Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMU). The process was accompanied by an informal, inter-departmental working group on adaptation. In December 2008, the strategy was adopted by the federal government and published under the title “Deutsche Anpassungsstrategie an den Klimawandel” (short DAS; “German Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change”).

From DAS to the Adaptation Action Plan

The previously informal working group on adaptation was formalised after the adoption of the DAS and became the Interministerial Working Group on Adaptation to Climate Change (IMA Anpassung). Nearly all federal ministries are represented in the working group. Its purpose is to coordinate the cooperation among the participating ministries and further develop the DAS.
By now, the working group has been supplemented by an additional body: In June 2009, the Conference of Environmental Ministers established a standing committee for the adaptation to climate change impacts (Ständiger Ausschuss zur Anpassung an die Folgen des Klimawandels; StA AFK). It is part of the federal government/federal states working group on climate, energy, mobility and sustainability (Bund-Länder-Arbeitsgemeinschaft Klima, Energie, Mobilität und Nachhaltigkeit; BLAG KliNa). The committee's task is to provide information to the federal government and the federal states and coordinate and link their respective climate adaptation activities.

Both bodies have played an important role during the development of the second central element of the German climate adaptation policy (“Aktionsplan Anpassung”; “Adaptation Action Plan”; APA). This action plan was developed in close cooperation between federal and state governments and subsequently adopted by the federal government in August 2011. During an extensive process allowing for dialogues and participation, it was also accompanied by local communities, science representatives and several social groups. The action plan explains how the objectives and potential measures that are set out in the German Adaptation Strategy can be substantiated with specific activities of the federal government over the next few years. Furthermore, the plan also determines which follow-up measures are necessary to implement and develop the DAS.

What is happening at the moment?

Climate change is a very dynamic area of research. The knowledge base is expanded constantly. To ensure that this new knowledge is incorporated into the political framework, the DAS is continuously developed and improved. Among other things, the measures contained in it will be evaluated by the end of 2014 (evaluation process). In addition, new foundations for the alignment of the federal government's adaptation activities are established. This includes, for example, the ongoing nation-wide and cross-sectoral vulnerability assessment (Netzwerk Vulnerabilität; “Network Vulnerability”).
More information on this topic is available here: Further development of the DAS.