Increasing levels of heat stress, flooding and drought in the physical environment

4 March 2019

A legal exploration of urban climate adaptation

The total reported economic losses caused by weather and climate-related extremes in the European Economic Area (EEA) between 1980 and 2015 was a staggering EUR 433 billion. Climatic extremes are expected to occur more and more frequently in the years to come. Due to the high percentage of impervious surfaces and high-density development, urban areas in particular are becoming vulnerable to heat, flooding and drought. In addition to combatting climate change by reducing CO2 emissions, climate adaptation – in other words, adjusting to the consequences of climate change – also has a key role to play. An example is the development of water and heat-resistant public spaces.

Jet Akkerman and Marloes Brans have carried out research into the instruments currently being developed for climate adaptation in urban planning legislation and regulations. Their article ‘Increasing heat stress, flooding and drought in the physical environment’, which has been published in the Tijdschrift voor Bouwrecht, starts by discussing the European and national framework. It then moves on to talk about the climate-adaption measures being taken in Rotterdam and Amsterdam, as well as the legal safeguards. They note that rules on climate adaptation are increasingly being incorporated in current legislation and regulations, in particular at a local level in zoning plans. Finally, they explore the possibilities offered under the Dutch Crisis and Recovery Act and the new Environmental Planning Act.

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