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Table 2 Results of the comparative analysis on the taken up local climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies

From: Reflections on the uptake of climate change policies by local governments: facing the challenges of mitigation and adaptation

  Climate change mitigation Climate change adaptation
Policy goals Local climate change mitigation policy goals in terms of CO2 equivalent reduction vary between municipalities (e.g., striving to become ‘climate neutral’ in 2030 or attain a 50% CO2 emission reduction by 2020). Policy goals are often framed as ‘energy’ goals (e.g., achieve improved energy efficiency of 30% by 2020 or achieve a 50% share of renewable energy in the total local energy consumption by 2020) Varies between municipalities. Often involves flooding prevention (either from severe precipitation or rivers). A few cities have also stressed ‘climate-proof’ neighborhoods and urban heat stress and formulated policy goals accordingly
Local climate change mitigation policies should contribute to the national government's climate change policy goals, e.g., CO2 equivalent emission reduction of 6% by 2010 (below the 1990 level)
Main set of policy instruments used Coherent climate change mitigation support programs for vertical policy integration (at most 50% financed by national government; BANS, SLOK) were implemented by central government. Furthermore, there were support schemes in fields related to CC mitigation, such as awareness raising on energy saving and adoption of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies (especially in the built environment) Several central government programs were implemented to stress CC adaptation, such as the NAS, the ARK program, the Delta Program, and research program for institutional designs of climate change-proof society
Although these programs focused on multilevel governmental collaboration, they do not resemble support policy schemes comparable to BANS and SLOK, which were used for vertical policy integration in the CC mitigation domain
Local CC adaptation actions focused on water policy - i.e., flood prevention, but hardly on other CC adaptation domains like urban heat stress
There was limited consistency in national CC adaptation policy strategies. Succession of national CC programs was problematic
The role of municipalities as implementing governmental agents Municipalities are the key local policy implementation actors. They may serve as ‘best practice’ for local communities and ‘launching customer’ for sustainable energy services. Furthermore, they have an intermediary role between central government and local communities and depend on the latter for commitment and compliance with local action plans. They are ‘initiators’ and ‘local firebrands’ for ‘CO2 reduction activities’ in local communities. They are network and process managers in local ‘CO2 reduction projects’ (in collaboration with local stakeholders) Besides the water boards, municipalities are key implementing agents for climate change adaptation policy. They have an intermediary role between central government and local communities. They have some influence in infrastructural projects but depend strongly on compliance from other stakeholders, especially water boards, ‘Rijkswaterstaat’ (central government's waterways authority), citizens, and local businesses
Coordination and integration with existing policies and practices Moderate. Municipalities have been adjusting their policies to some extent to allow for coordinated local ‘CO2 reduction projects.’ However, there is a great deal of institutional inertia which can only be changed when regulations are formally amended Poor. Implementation of climate change adaptation policy faces many institutional barriers, both in the water domain (when dealing with flooding risks) and in the built environment (e.g., when dealing with urban heat stress). Flood prevention belongs to the water policy domain (and is hence dominated by water sector agencies, such as water boards, provincial governments, and ‘Rijkswaterstaat’)
Degree of implementation? High. By 2011, 95% of municipalities had formulated their own climate change mitigation policy action plans, and climate change mitigation had become a topic in local politics with most parties having adopted it in their local election manifestos Low. Climate change adaptation is not considered an important policy issue by municipalities (for lack of urgency and incentives). Flood prevention has been receiving moderate attention by a few flood-prone cities. Urban heat stress is still considered a non-issue. There are a few proactive front-runner cities in the country, though
Climate change adaptation actions are often only adopted when the objectives provide other broader societal benefit, in particular objectives that can be integrated with objectives in established policy domains
Factors positively related to climate change policy adoption by local governments. Vertical policy integration support schemes (BANS, and later SLOK) Size of municipal organization. A few (front-runner) cities have shown responsiveness to national programs like NAS.
High degree of media attention to CC in 2006, and the following inter-municipal deliberation that lead to the signing of the National Climate Agreement in 2007
Presence of a highly motivated, influential, hardworking, ‘pro-climate change’-oriented municipal officer
Presence of a (pro-active) Green-Leftist public official
Size of municipal organization [15]
Membership of (international) ‘pro-climate change’ NGO [15]
What lies ahead (future prospects)? Local CC mitigation policy plans and ‘local capacity’ have been established. The central government support schemes were terminated (in 2005 and later in 2011), though. In the near future, local governments will likely have a supporting role and facilitate the increasing number of civil society and business initiatives towards adoption of local sustainable energy (efficient) systems and hence reduce local GHG emissions A ‘Climate Change Roadmap’ is being prepared, which includes a more coordinated vision and activities with the climate change mitigation domain. There will likely be more attention to cities broadening climate change strategies from ‘mitigation only’ to ‘mitigation + adaptation’. This will be a challenge to most municipalities
  1. CC, climate change; NAS, National Adaptation Strategy.