Efforts to combat climate change will be effective only if governments also enact economic and social policies that support those efforts, according to a new report from the Partnership for European Environmental Research (PEER).
For a Europe-wide climate policy to work, PEER finds, climate change issues must also be addressed in such policies as taxation, transportation, and land use planning. That’s the only way to ensure that production processes and consumption patterns change in climate-friendly ways, the report states.
“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,” said lead author Per Mickwitz. “Annual budgets, environmental impact assessments and spatial planning procedures are three examples of existing measures which we believe have significant potential to be climate policy instruments.”
Such an integrated approach is not without difficulties, however. The report finds that many latent conflicts — disputes over nuclear power, for example, or differences in values — tend to be reopened when climate policies are taken into account while making decisions in other areas. Policy-makers need to recognise and address such conflicts early if they hope to initiate effective climate change measures, the authors write.
“As PEER chair, I know how important it is to work together within Europe to ensure that future decisions will be based on the best information available, minimising risks and, in some cases, turning threats into opportunities,” said Pat Nuttall, who is also director of the UK’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. “There is a huge need for increased policy and programme evaluation from a climate change perspective, and this report is a first step towards achieving this goal.”