14 May 2024, 13:08
Carolina Kyllmann

German municipalities urgently need climate risk assessments and protection plans – report

Clean Energy Wire

Germany's towns and cities are insufficiently prepared to deal with more frequent and more severe flooding, periods of high heat, and drought and water shortages, a report by RPTU Kaiserslautern said. "Most – especially smaller – municipalities simply ignore the dangers behind the growing risk of heavy rain," report author Theo Schmitt said. Municipalities across the country should therefore urgently undertake climate risk assessments and prepare hazard and risk maps to identify hotspots for flooding as well as severe heat, the report commissioned by the German association of building materials trade (BDB) recommended. This must then be followed by effective risk communication campaigns, so city planners know where measures to increase climate resilience are most needed. Homeowners could also take protective action if their location is at a higher risk from heavy rainfall or heatwaves.

"The growing climate risks are now forcing Germany to build differently – and even to rebuild," the report reads. The author called for the federal states and national government to set the legal framework to analyse all buildings and infrastructure for climate risks. "From the energy and water supply to urban planning – everything needs to be scrutinised," Schmitt said. Effective protection concepts should then follow, including storm-proofing buildings; better methods to retain rainwater more effectively; renovating sewage systems to avoid bottlenecks; and climate-proofing roads, tunnels and tracks. Regional and local climate risks would be the decisive factor in determining exactly how towns and cities increase their climate security, Schmitt said. "The federal, state and local governments must quickly set the course for something to happen now."

Germany's population and the country's infrastructure are increasingly affected by climate change. Adapting to the already unavoidable effects of climate change is necessary to save lives, reduce the ecological and socio-economic impacts of the crisis, and minimise future costs. Germany introduced a nationwide climate adaptation law in 2023, requiring municipalities to draw up local risk analyses and adaptation plans. Additionally, the health ministry presented Germany's first heat protection plan aiming to reduce heat-related deaths.

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