Climate Policy & Water: Climate Change Adaptation is About Water


A German Perspective: What does the Paris climate agreement mean for water policy?

“The vital importance of water and water-related trade-offs with climate policy has largely been ignored to date. At first glance, water plays no role in the Paris agreement. Upon closer examination, however, we see that climate policy will have far-reaching implications for the availability of water and vice versa,” wrote Ines Dombrowsky, Steffen Bauer and Waltina Scheumann in The Current Column published by the German Development Institute last month.

German Development Institute_team“The Paris climate agreement has for the first time made the enhancement of adaptive capacities and the strengthening of climate change resilience a global goal. As a result, climate change adaptation is now given the same priority as climate change mitigation. However, climate and water policy often disregard the importance of water as the medium through which climate change exerts its clearest and most direct impact on our livelihoods and on numerous economic sectors.”

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To download a copy of the co-authored article, click on What Does the Paris climate agreement mean for water policy?

The Pressure on Water Resources

“Even less attention has been paid so far to the fact that mitigation measures can also involve high levels of water consumption. Almost all IPCC scenarios where there is a high likelihood of limiting global warning to 2°C rely heavily on carbon sinks. The massive amounts of water and land used mean the method is also in competition with food production processes. A warmer world would similarly increase pressure on water resources considerably.”

“If we are too late in taking seriously the trade-offs between the goals of climate change mitigation and those of water resource conservation, then climate policy may jeopardise the achievement of the water SDG. This would in turn put at risk other SDGs. In water policy terms, this means that sustainable water resource management as per SDG 6 will become increasingly important in future in light of both climate change adaptation and climate change mitigation,” conclude the co-authors.