Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Climate change: don't get scared, get ready

Ida Auken (Denmark's environment minister) in the Sustainable Business blog at the Guardian (UK): ...I recently put forward a climate adaptation plan which contains more than 60 action points. This was developed in a cross-ministerial process directly involving nine ministries and several stakeholders. We substantiated the government adaptation efforts by asking the "usual suspects" two questions: what is most important for adapting to climate change? And who else do we need to talk to as we prepare our climate adaptation plans?

...With the climate adaptation plan, homeowners are focusing on mitigation of flooding risks, which gives work to smaller entrepreneurs. Municipalities are hiring medium-sized entrepreneurial companies, which specialise in flood-proof road solutions, and finally, larger consulting companies are finding it easier to sell their services around the world, based on the Danish experience.

Architects and utilities have started thinking in new ways about water storage. For example, instead of building a large concrete reservoir, the city of Roskilde decided to turn a field into a gigantic skateboard area, which can store as much water as 10 Olympic-size swimming pools during heavy rainfall. A technical installation in the city went from being a blind spot to a contribution to life and public health.

We changed the rules for water pricing so that a local government could choose to use their roads for transporting rainwater by designing them differently and maybe using permeable asphalt. We enabled them to create nature areas for storing rain
water to the benefit of the local citizens (and house prices). But all of this is contingent upon them demonstrating that the alternative solutions are less expensive than building new waste water treatment plants or expanding the sewers.

I also challenged our insurance companies, by asking them: "Given that you can raise prices with reference to large storms and damages, why don't you lower your prices again when house owners or local governments make their house or local area climate-proof?" This is exactly what three of the largest insurance companies in Denmark did. They now offer discounts on house insurance for homeowners, who have taken steps to avoid flooding of their properties...

A canal in Copenhagen, shot by Zairon, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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