EIA research - assessment and climate change

15th January 2016


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IEMA

IEMA published a free guide to environmental impact assessment (EIA) and climate change resilience and adaptation in November 2015.

New research in Environmental Impact Assessment Review reveals how climate change is being considered in EIA in Spain, and Austria and Germany. The authors of the Spanish study, from the Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, analysed 1,713 environmental records of decisions (RODs) of projects submitted for EIA to see how climate change had been considered in assessments.

They found that just 14% of the RODs included references to climate change, and in more than half it was a mere citation. Climate change was more likely to be considered in assessments for thermal power plants, which are subject to specific GHG regulations.

By contrast, transport infrastructures, which are important contributors to climate change, had a very low consideration. The authors said all the references were related to the project’s contribution to climate change, while consideration of the effects was minimal.

They concluded that it would be highly desirable to include in EIA regulations the obligation to consider climate change, but said this would need to be accompanied by practical guidance and training for practitioners and evaluators.

The second study involved researchers from several organisations, including the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences in Vienna and the University of Liverpool.

They investigated the extent to which EIA contributed to an early consideration of climate change consequences in planning processes. The research included interviewing staff from infrastructure companies and institutions in Austria as well as EIA assessors and EIA authorities there and in Germany. They found that the groups considered climate change to different degrees.

Interviewees said a lack of data as well as general uncertainty on how far climate change should be considered in the process without reliable information were barriers to integrating climate change in assessments.

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