This chapter focuses on the role basic environmental law instruments such as environmental quality standards, environmental permits and environmental impact assessments play in climate change adaptation law. Three roles are discussed in detail: create an overall environmental quality that makes the environment more resilient to climate change; reduce the risk of (increased) pollution because of extreme weather events or of climate change more generally; reduce the negative side-effects of adaptation measures on the environment. The chapter concludes that current environmental laws already possess features that are relevant to adaptation, such as the requirement to regularly assess the permit conditions under pollution control law and the requirement to look at the long-term impacts of a project on the environment under environmental impact assessment law. However, it seems that the legislature should explicitly force regulators to consider changing climatic conditions and extreme weather events when setting environmental quality standards or when requiring certain conditions to be met in environmental permits. Impact assessment schemes aimed at both specific projects and strategic plans should explicitly require the assessors to take long-term climate change adaptation requirements into account. The potential contribution of these environmental law instruments to climate change adaptation is simply too large not to embrace the opportunities they encompass.
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