Climate change adaptation is the key to safer communities

For Norwegian municipalities, extreme weather has been a growing concern over the last decade, with seven out of ten municipalities having experienced extreme weather events. A comprehensive report commissioned by If shows that many municipalities in Norway need to step-up their climate change adaptation work.

In the spring of 2019, the CICERO Centre for Climate Research, in cooperation with IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute, conducted a survey on climate change adaptation in Norwegian municipalities. Adaptation means anticipating the adverse effects of climate change and taking appropriate action to prevent or minimize the damage they can cause. The report was commissioned by If, and aimed at investigating how far the municipalities have progressed in their work and highlighting best practices. The survey results also formed the basis for a comparison and ranking of the municipalities’ work.

‘Appropriate measures at the municipal level are key to safeguarding communities from the consequences of climate change. The efforts we put into climate adaptation today will be invaluable for future generations. We hope that this report will inspire more municipalities to get started with this important work’, says If Group Executive Vice President, Ivar Martinsen.

Climate change efforts at municipal level can range from technical measures (e.g. flood defences) to administrative actions (e.g. adapting building codes) and ‘blue-green’ measures (such as green lungs or wetlands). Although the results featured some successful cases of municipal climate adaption, many municipalities need to improve their work. Overall, four out of ten municipalities achieved such a low overall score in the assessment that it is likely they have only just started their climate adaptation work.

‘Extreme weather is nothing new, but there is reason to expect increasingly intense periods of drought and flooding. By presenting both challenges and good examples from the municipalities, we hope to be able to help municipalities that have not yet begun their climate change adaptation work to see how they can get started with simple steps’, says Marit Klemetsen, senior researcher at CICERO.

If has announced that a new survey of the Norwegian municipalities’ climate change adaptation work is due in 2020.

‘In addition to protecting citizens from extreme weather, adaptation measures make economic sense for everyone involved. The cost of being prepared is always far lower than the sums the municipality and the community will face when the damage occurs’, If’s Ivar Martinsen concludes.