Climate change issues must be “better integrated” into general and specific policy, including planning, taxation, transportation and annual budgets, says the report published by the Partnership for European Environmental Research (PEER).

Professor Dr Pat Nuttall, director of the UK’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, which chairs PEER, wrote in his foreword to the report called Climate Policy Integration, Coherence and Governance: “Policy makers need to place greater emphasis on climate-related issues than is currently the case in the planning and execution of general and sector specific policies.

“Annual budgets, impact assessments and spatial planning are examples of existing measures that should integrate climate concerns to a greater extent than they currently do.”

The report says more comprehensive government policy will result in the “necessary changes” in production processes and consumption patterns to tackle climate change.

Lead author Dr Per Mickwitz, of the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), said, “Although the inclusion of climate change mitigation and adaptation in general governmental programmes and strategies has substantially increased in recent years, much more is needed in terms of integrating climate issues into specific policy measures.”

The report looks at the degree of climate policy integration at national and local levels in six European countries, including the UK, Denmark, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain.

It sets out ways to boost integration and improve what it calls “policy coherence” to ensure climate change is given more political weight.

“The extent to which climate change issues are considered and integrated into existing policy fields is therefore a key issue to be tackled in the future,” the report says.

“Furthermore, if European societies are to become low-carbon societies, and if their ability to adapt to a changing climate is to be enhanced, then the coherence between these policies and climate policy aims should be increased. If the low-carbon vision is to be achieved, it requires a comprehensive climate policy.”

The report gives examples of the benefits of better climate policy.

Where previously climate change has “largely been perceived just in terms of restrictions and limitation on economic activity”, many countries are now redefining it in terms of “innovation possibilities, business opportunities and potential profits” and better policy can maximise that potential, it says.

PEER is made up of seven of Europe’s biggest environmental research institutes.

For the full report go to the following link at its website.

David Gibbs

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