Adaptation and Extreme Events at the Local Level
Edited by E. Carina H. Keskitalo
Chapter 1: Introduction. Local organisation to address flood risks: possibilities for adaptation to climate change?
Adaptation to climate change has recently arisen as a major issue for local planning and organisation. While mitigation – the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions – is necessary to limit risks, present assessments suggest that even at existing emission levels we need to develop adaptations or ways of managing the effects of climate change. Water resources are among the components of the environment most seriously affected by climate change, and water-related hazards make up 90 per cent of all natural hazards (Sadoff and Muller 2009; Connor and Stoddard 2012; cf. IPCC 2012). In the European Union (EU), over 40 billion euros per year are currently spent on flood mitigation, and recovery and compensation for flood damage, most of this sum in urban areas. Between 2000 and 2009, Europe ‘witnessed some of the largest flooding events in its history’ (van Ree et al. 2011: 874). While much of the rise in losses from natural disasters is a result of increased assets in risk areas, it signals higher potential risk in the context of climate change (Connor and Stoddard 2012). Built environments, which are prevalent in flood risk areas due to the concentration of population in coastal and river areas, affect and are affected by floods, and make the costs of infrastructure damage particularly large (Wheather and Evans 2009; EEA 2012).