The climate is changing, and slowly but surely the impact is becoming noticeable. Over recent years, a great deal of research has been conducted into climate change. Global climate is warming, and many of the changes in the climate system perceived since the 1950s have not occurred over the past hundreds to thousands of years. The concentration of greenhouse gases has increased, the atmosphere and the ocean have warmed, the volume of snow and ice has decreased, and the sea level has risen. The short film below briefly explains how the climate is changing.
In 2013 and 2014, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published four reports on climate change. The Dutch Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) and the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) have reduced the nearly 5,000 pages of the fifth IPCC Assessment Report to a Dutch summary report of 134 pages (PDF, 7.4 MB). In addition to providing a convenient overview of the state of affairs regarding climate science, this report also gives insight into the consequences for the Netherlands. The Dutch summary published by PBL and KNMI is intended to provide politicians and policy-makers with ready knowledge about facts and scientific research results.
The above report also comprises the KNMI'14 scenarios. These scenarios outline the corner posts within which, according to the latest insights, climate change is presumed to occur in the Netherlands. They reflect the changes around 2050 and 2085 vis-à-vis the climate situation in the period 1981-2010. The four KNMI'14 scenarios differ in the extent to which global temperatures will rise (“Moderate” and “Warm”), and the potential change of air current patterns (“Low value” and “High value”). The KNMI'14 climate scenarios paint a picture of higher temperatures, a more rapidly rising sea level, wetter winters, more severe downpours, and possibly drier summers.
In the Netherlands, 40 per cent of the population live in one of the 36 largest cities and this percentage is growing. These cities account for three-quarters of the Gross National Product (G32, 2011). Extreme weather conditions, such as heatwaves and extreme precipitation, therefore pose a threat to a great many people, vital infrastructures, and value chains. The combination of urbanisation and climate change calls for a pro-active stance on the part of cities in expanding their resilience, in order to safeguard a good quality of life for their residents, and maintain their competitive position. Sensibly adapting existing structures to a changing climate requires decisions underpinned by knowledge and an integrated approach. From 2010 to 2014, the Climate Proof Cities (CPC) research programme had committed itself to generating this knowledge on behalf of climate-proof urban policy. The results and findings have been outlined in the report Climate Proof Cities (PDF, 7.2 MB).
Climate adaptation in actual practice
In the Knowledge for Climate research programme, various parties (such as universities, consultancies, provinces, district water boards, municipalities, and businesses) have conducted research to develop knowledge and services aimed at climate-proofing the Netherlands. The results have been compiled into nine practical booklets:
- Waterveiligheid [Flood Risk Management]: Climate and Flooding
- Zoetwatervoorziening en Waterkwaliteit [Freshwater Supply and Water Quality]: Climate and Freshwater
- Rurale gebieden [Rural Areas]: Climate, Nature, and Agriculture
- Klimaatbestendige stad [Climate-proof city]: Climate and the City
- Infrastructuur en netwerken [Infrastructure and Grids]: Climate and Vital Infrastructure
- Klimaatprojecties [Climate Projections]: Future Climate
- Governance: Climate and Governance
- Beleidsondersteunende instrumenten [Policy-supporting Instruments]: Instruments supporting Climate Policy
- Innovatie in Klimaatadaptatie [Innovation in Climate Adaptation]: Comprehensive Report
Recent scientific insights
Climate change impacts many aspects of our daily lives. Examples include our flood protection, pluvial flooding during extreme downpours, an increased risk of forest fires during dry summers, and the impact of heat on vulnerable sections of the population in the cities. Extensive scientific research is being conducted into the extent of our vulnerability to these consequences, now and in the future, and how we can adapt to them. The ClimateChangePost monitors a large number of academic journals, and summarises the results of this research into accessible documents. The ClimateChangePost covers the whole of Europe, with a separate page for each country.