Research Handbooks in Environmental Law series
Edited by Jonathan Verschuuren
Chapter 5: Climate change adaptation and compensation
The various estimations concerning the consequences of climate change make clear that there is a serious probability that the number and intensity of disasters will increase. Not only hurricanes and flooding, but also the mere risk of sea level rise may create substantial damage. This has obviously led to a debate on the necessity of adaptation, and the role that the law could play in that respect, the central focus of this book. The debate on adaptation often focuses on physical measures that public authorities could promote (e.g., building dikes and other infrastructural facilities) to adapt countries to the threat of climate change. Yet another aspect, which will be the central focus of this contribution, is how the legal system will have to deal with the damage that will undoubtedly result as a consequence of these disasters. The advantage of approaching the topic in this way (by focusing on the compensation for victims of disasters) is that there is obviously already a wide debate on how victims of ‘normal’ disasters (hence, also irrespective of the climate change debate) should be compensated. This debate can also provide fruitful insights concerning the question how to compensate potential victims of climate change. From a victim’s perspective, it may be less interesting to know that a particular damage (e.g., resulting from flooding) was related to climate change or not.
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