Implementing adaptation to climate change at the local level

april 2012

Adaptation to climate change has to various degrees been added to the political agenda in all industrialised countries. In most of these countries, adaptation measures are yet to be implemented in legislation and are, therefore, in practice voluntary undertakings. At the local level of the government, this means that adaptation has to compete with other non-mandatory issues. This raises the question as to what degree adaptation can and will be implemented.

This paper examines how the implementation of climate adaptation measures has proceeded in eight Norwegian municipalities. These municipalities were among the first movers on adaptation to climate change in Norway. In order to measure the degree of implementation, a set of indicators has been developed and the eight case municipalities have been analysed according to these indicators.

We found that seven of eight municipalities have implemented or have specific plans to implement adaptation measures. These findings show that municipalities are able to implement adaptation policies that are not initiated at the central level, but are contingent upon a number of factors: the efforts of individuals within the municipal organisation, municipal size, and the use of external expertise.