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Last update:Aug 08, 2019

Item Status Links
National Adaptation Strategy
  • Adopted
National Adaptation Plan
  • Adopted
Impacts, vulnerability and adaptation assessments
  • Completed 
  • Completed 
Research programmes 
  • Currently being undertaken
  • Currently being undertaken
Meteorological observations
  • Established
Climate projections and services
  • Established
  • Established
CC IVA portals and platforms
  • Established
Monitoring, indicators, methodologies
  • Established
Monitoring Mechanism Regulation
  • Last reporting on Adaptation (Art. 15) submitted
National Communication to the UNFCCC
  • Last National Communication Submitted

In Austria, a national adaptation strategy (NAS) was adopted on 23rd October 2012 by the Council of Ministers and endorsed by the Provincial Governors Conference on 16th May 2013. The Austrian NAS consists of two parts: a Strategic Framework (or "Context") and an Action Plan (BMNT, formerly BMLFUW (2017). The Austrian Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change Part 1 “Context" and Part 2 “Action plan" are available in German. Part 1 “Context" is also available in English. The aim of the Austrian NAS is to avoid the adverse effects of climate change on the environment, society, and the economy and to fully utilise any opportunities that may arise.

 

Adaptation Strategies

The NAS aims to create a national framework to ensure coordination and harmonisation of the various climate adaptation activities in all areas. In August 2017, a revised version of the NAS was adopted by the Austrian Council of Ministers, which was subsequently also approved by the Conference of the Governors of the Bundesländer (NUTS II) in November 2017. This new version aims to update and further develop the NAS, while preserving its overall structure.

A national adaptation plan (NAP) was adopted in 2012 (as part of the NAS) and revised in 2016 (and approved together with the revised NAS in 2017). The NAP presents a catalogue of 135 adaptation options for 14 areas of action. These areas are: agriculture, forestry, water resources and water management, tourism, energy (with a focus on the electricity industry), protection from natural hazards, construction and housing, disaster risk management, health, ecosystems and biodiversity, transportation infrastructure and selected aspects of mobility, spatial planning, business/industry/trade, and cities (with a focus on urban green and open spaces). The drafting process was characterized by the extensive and active participation of representatives from the federal ministries, the provincial states, interest groups, stakeholders, NGOs, and other institutions. The Environment Agency Austria (EAA) was actively involved in various aspects of the strategy's development; among other things, it organized the participation process with more than 100 institutions.

Implementation means

With regard to implementation, the Austrian Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan provides concrete recommendations in the 14 areas for action and describes those in detail in the corresponding Action Plan, in which also the key actors, potential conflicts and time horizons for implementation are noted for each recommendation and measure. For successful implementation of the NAS, a lot of effort is being made to ensure best possible cooperation between all actors concerned. In terms of provision of resources, the following premises apply for the implementation of the Austrian Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan:

  • The implementation of the recommendations must be achieved within the existing jurisdictions of all governmental authorities (federal, provincial states, local);
  • All recommendations listed in the Austrian Action Plan are to be covered by the resources available in the applicable financial frameworks of the public sector (federal, provincial states, local);
  • The costs of implementing the recommendations are to be covered by prioritization and shifting within the available budget.

In many cases, implementation of the recommendations will require the cooperation of various actors in the public sector (federal, provincial states, local) and the private sector. To ensure fair burden-sharing, cooperation within the public sector and between the public and private sectors is recommendable and meaningful. A new funding program (KLAR!-Climate Change Adaptation Model Regions for Austria) is available with the aim to support Austrian regions in enhancing their climate resilience in vulnerable sectors. The program has been launched in September 2016 and ran until the end of 2017 for the initial phase, with a volume of 800.000 Euro to support adaptation efforts in regions. Until the end of March 2017, regions and municipalities were invited to submit their applications including a basic concept to the Climate and Energy Fund, who initiated the KLAR! programme in cooperation with the Federal Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism (BMNT).

Since 2018 and up until 2019, beneficiaries are now working on implementing the measures laid out in these concepts with a financial support of 2,1 Million EURO. In a third phase post-2020, the action plans and their executed measures will then be evaluated. Since October 2018, new regions can apply in the initial phase until March 29, 2019. New regional climate scenarios were funded to support regional adaptation.

Furthermore, the Federal Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism, together with the provincial states have financed various capacity building activities for the regional and local level (e.g. workshops in regions, brochure with 11 good-practice examples on adaptation from regions across Austria).

Monitoring, reporting and evaluation

A progress report was published by the BMNT in 2015 (BMNT, formerly BMLFUW (2015). Anpassung and den Klimawandel in Österreich. Fortschrittsbericht. Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management, Vienna) on the state of implementation of the measures described in the NAP. Monitoring and evaluation of the NAS/NAP is pragmatic and comprises two modules: 1) a self-assessment approach using a stakeholder survey based on the NAP and sent to the key actors mentioned therein; 2) an indicator-based approach with qualitative and quantitative data collections (BMNT, formerly BMLFUW (2014). Anpassung an den Klimawandel in Österreich. Konzept für die Fortschrittsdarstellung. Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management, Vienna). The results from the progress report show that implementation and mainstreaming of adaptation is increasing in Austria with a different level of progress in the various areas of action. The results were of high relevance for the first updated version of the Austrian Adaptation Strategy and its Action Plan as of 2017.

Schedule and planned review/revision

2nd Progress Report is foreseen for 2020.

The recommendations for the 14 areas have been developed beyond generic recommendations and include specific information for implementation such as responsibilities, existing instruments to be used for mainstreaming adaptation, time frame for implementation, and required resources, etc. 

Sectors addressed in NAS/NAP

Adaptation recommendations have been identified and assessed on the basis of qualitative vulnerability assessment for nine sectors (i.e. water, tourism, agriculture, forestry, electricity and energy, housing and construction, health, ecosystems and biodiversity and transport/infrastructure). The scientific community was strongly involved in the process of developing proposals for adaptation options for certain areas of action. Also many stakeholders from the organised public (e.g. federal and provincial ministries or related institutions, interest groups and social/environmental NGOs) were consulted to complement the adaptation recommendations.

In total, 135 recommendations in the NAP have been formulated with the number of recommendations per field of activity/area of action ranging from three (tourism) to fourteen (agriculture). In most cases, the recommendations for action represent rather bundles of discrete further steps needed to accomplish the respective adaptation goal than single specific measures. The recommendations for action are available at national level, sub-national level, sectoral level and cross-sectoral level. The following types of adaptation options were identified:

  • Grey options (i.e. technological, such as river flood protection, beach nourishment)
  • Green options (i.e. ecosystem-based approaches that use nature's multiple services, such as crop diversification, enhancing the ability of indigenous plant and animal species to move across landscapes)
  • Soft options (i.e. managerial, legal and policy approaches, such as awareness-raising initiatives, passing legislation, creating early warning systems, insurance, planning instruments)
  • Combined options

Each measure described follows the same structure:

  • Content items elaborated for each recommendation
  • Goal
  • Relevance
  • Relation to other activity fields
  • Relation to existing instruments
  • Status of implementation
  • Recommended further steps
  • Possible resource needs
  • Conflict potentials
  • Implementing actors and
  • time horizon.

Areas for action of the NAS/NAP have not been prioritised, but criteria for prioritisation are identified in the NAS. In general, measures that provide benefits independent of climate change ("win-win") or measures that entail no disadvantages in case the actual climate trends do not correspond to projections ("no-regret") should be prioritised, as well as flexible measures. Furthermore, prioritisation according to the "Europe 2020: A strategy for intelligent, sustainable, and inclusive growth" is suggested. 

Mainstreaming of adaptation

The integration of adaptation into sectoral policies and programmes and thus mainstreaming is increasing with practical examples in agriculture, forestry, biodiversity, health, water management and natural hazard management. Climate adaptation is addressed in the amendment to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Law in Austria in 2018. The guidance documents for conducting EIA Reports are currently being revised in order to comply with the requirements of the amended EIA Directive.

The mainstreaming of climate adaptation into urban planning policies is visible for example in the Vienna urban development plan 2025 (STEP 2025)  Climate adaptation measures are mentioned as an integral part of planning the management and enhancement of the city of the ‘Grünes Netz Graz’ (Green Grid Graz) developed by the city of Graz. Both are examples of a municipal strategy papers for urban planning that places ecological and climate-specific measures at its core. Social aspects also feature an important element in the NAS and need to be considered during the implementation of recommendations.

The Austrian NAS (2017) contains a qualitative vulnerability assessment for nine sectors (i.e. water, tourism, agriculture, forestry, electricity and energy, housing and construction, health, ecosystems and biodiversity and transport/infrastructure). It was carried out by the Environment Agency Austria in cooperation with the Institute of Meteorology of the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences. The vulnerability reports fed into the NAS. Separate studies have not been carried out for the other five sectors (protection from natural hazards, disaster risk management, spatial planning, business/industry/trade, cities). Nevertheless, a descriptive vulnerability assessment has been included in the NAP 2017 for all 14 sectors, although it highlights the differences in the level of knowledge and detail across sectors.

Observations and projections

Observations and data are available for the last 250 years in the greater alpine region (HistAlp-Dataset). The longest temperature and air pressure series extend back to 1760, precipitation to 1800, cloudiness to the 1840s and sunshine to the 1880s in the alpine region. Projections are available for the Alpine region for temperature, precipitation, heat, heavy precipitation and storms.

Data collection and provision is located at the Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics (ZAMG) with meteorological stations measuring temperature, precipitation, wind, sunshine and many other meteorological parameters. New regional climate scenarios for Austria and its nine provincial states have been available since autumn 2016. The scenarios are based on 13 EURO-CORDEX models, a 12.5km x 12.5 km grid, and use two greenhouse gas scenarios. Results are available via the Climate Change Centre Austria (CCCA) data portal (CCCA Data Centre).

Impact and Vulnerability Assessment

The Austrian Panel on Climate Change (APCC) has conducted a comprehensive assessment to document and integrate current scientific knowledge of climate change and its anticipated impacts on Austria as well as presents the needs and possibilities for mitigation and adaptation. The APCC report was published in September 2014, after the release of the IPCC Working Group III 5th Assessment Report. The Austrian Assessment Report 2014 (AAR14) is based on the IPCC structure and process; it consists of three volumes that present the existing knowledge on climate change in Austria, and on the needs and possibilities for mitigation and adaptation. The report aims to present the scientific knowledge pertaining to Austria in a coherent and complete manner to submit this in the form of policy-relevant information to the Austrian Federal Government and political decision-making bodies at all levels, and thereby providing a decision-making basis for the private sector and a knowledge base for academic institutions.

Similar to the IPCC assessment reports, the AAR14 is based on the principle of being policy-relevant, but not policy-prescriptive. In a joint, three-year effort approximately 240 Austrian scientists have developed this first progress report on climate change in Austria, and thus summarized the current state of knowledge on the characteristics of climate change in Austria, its consequences, and mitigation and adaptation strategies. Among the achievements of the report are:

  • Increased robustness of scientific data through integration of the findings of different research approaches and methods.
  • Development of data that can better inform societal decision making on climate change issues.
  • Provision of policy-relevant technical support for strategies developed to respond to climate change, and work on responses with the European Union and other international organizations.
  • Identification of knowledge gaps that can be addressed by future research.
  • Building of an active network of Austrian research institutions, individual scientists, policymakers, and other stakeholders to carry work on climate change forward.

Further assessments of the APCC are planned with the focus on specific topics. The first special report addressed health, demography and climate change and was published in September 2018. A special report on tourism is on the way and expected for 2019. More special reports can be expected in the years to come.

At regional level, some provincial states have conducted vulnerability/impact assessments for their territories and priority sectors: Lower Austria (for forestry, agriculture, energy, water and winter tourism), Upper Austria, Salzburg, Styria and Tyrol. Upper Austria, Styria, Tyrol, Salzburg and Vorarlberg have already adopted a regional adaptation strategy, an integrated climate strategy for Carinthia was finalised in 2018. Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland are mainstreaming adaptation into existing policies, such as climate mitigation plans.

With regard to economic assessments, a scientific evaluation of the financial consequences of climate change in Austria was presented in January 2015 as results of an ACRP project, Costs of Inaction (COIN) . This analysis and documentation on the "costs of inaction" provide the basis for further applied research under the ACRP on the costs of adaptation measures. The main results of two projects PACINAS (Public Adaptation Costs: Investigating the National Adaptation Strategy) and PACTCH:ES (Private Adaptation Threats and Chances: Enhancing Synergies with the Austrian NAS implementation) were published in mid-2017.

Research

Climate research has rapidly evolved in recent years in Austria. The national climate research programme StartClim and the Austrian Climate Research Program (ACRP) of the Climate and Energy Fund provide important and forward-looking results. In addition, significant insight has been obtained through the former research programme proVISION of the Federal Ministry for Science, Research and Economy and the Global Change Programme of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

Given the dimensions of climate change, institutionalized cooperation in climate and climate impact research is urgently needed in Austria. Upon the initiative of Austrian universities, the Climate Change Centre Austria (CCCA) was formally established in 2011. The objective of the CCCA is to improve the quality and efficiency of Austrian climate research through networking and the promotion of cooperation, but also to enhance its international visibility. As a focal point for research, policy, media, and the public, and for all questions of climate research in Austria, it serves to foster a sustainable national climate dialogue. The CCCA is organized as an association and currently holds 21 full members and 4 associate members, including numerous universities and non-academic research institutions.

Monitoring progress

In 2014, a concept for monitoring and evaluation (M&E) has been published, which aims to:

  • Monitor the implementation of the Austrian Adaptation Strategy;
  • Provide an overview on the progress of adaptation and information on key trends of vulnerabilities;
  • Create awareness for the need of adaptation as well as highlight gaps and key challenges;
  • Provide a basis for continued development (review) of the NAS.

The M&E system follows a pragmatic approach and is closely related to the Action Plan. It comprises two modules: the first module is a stakeholder survey ("self-assessment approach"; based on the Action plan and sent to the key actors mentioned therein); the second module presents a criteria-approach ("indicator-based approach" with qualitative and quantitative data collections). The joint consideration of these two components provided a broad picture of the implementation of the NAS and key adaptation trends in Austria.

The M&E scheme was developed together with stakeholders by involving them in workshops and personal interviews. Based on the results from the self-assessment and the data collection based on indicators, a first progress report of the state of implementation of the Austrian Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan was published in 2015. It shows that the measures recommended in the NAP have been or are being implemented in all activity fields although the level of progress varies from sector to sector. Future M&E and reporting is planned on a five-year-cycle. The 2nd progress report is expected for 2020.

 

In Austria, the BMNT (formerly, BMLFUW) holds overall responsibility for adaptation policy-making (Division IV/1 of the BMNT). One of its main assignments is to provide guidance by keeping the NAS and NAP updated, as well as by drafting the progress report on its implementation. The NAP is implemented in collaboration with a wide range of fellow federal ministries, regional government actors and sector stakeholders from the public and private sector.

Governance

All federal ministries were invited to join the NAS and NAP development process and to provide feedback and comments on the document via three rounds of written consultations. More precisely, the Inter-Ministerial Committee to Coordinate Measures to Protect Global Climate (IMC Climate Change) was regularly updated on the status of work towards the NAS. According to the latest amendment of the Austrian Climate Protection Law, §°4 (2), instead of the IMC the National Climate Protection Committee is in charge of adaptation to unavoidable climate impacts. The Committee meets at least once a year and is chaired by the BMNT.

Given the holistic and cross-sectoral nature of adaptation action, there is a need for horizontal coordination in the implementation phase as well. In accordance with the current division of competences (after the national election in 2017), the BMNT holds a much broader range of responsibilities as concerns areas of action in climate change. The National Climate Protection Committee is the relevant institutional body, set up by law, to provide sectoral coordination of adaptation and mitigation measures. The Austrian Spatial Planning Concept (Ö–REK), also calls for the continued organisation of "round table" meetings between sectoral representatives to discuss relevant climate-related issues during the implementation of measures.

The Bundesländer are highly committed to cooperating with the Federal Ministry (BMNT) on climate adaptation. Climate coordination officers/units have been installed in all provincial governments and act as the main agents of vertical cooperation with the Federal Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism (Nachmany et al. 2015). The Federal Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism together with all Bundesländer (decision taken by the LURK  "Provincial Environmental Speakers" Conference) has established an implementation plan summarising a few specific measures to be implemented in close cooperation. One of the decisions was the implementation of "dialogue events" in various Austrian cities. Twelve such dialogue events took place in 2016 and 2017. As a next step, more specific participatory measures were undertaken such as, a working group on increased private risk precaution in case of extreme weather events. In addition, stronger joint efforts were agreed to support adaptation at regional level (e.g. through regional workshops, and a booklet with good-practice examples).

The National Climate Protection Committee is the relevant institutional body, set up by law, to provide vertical (and sectoral) coordination of adaptation and mitigation measures. Furthermore, the Environment Agency Austria (EAA) fulfilled an important role as a semi-public support unit regarding several strands of activities throughout the entire NAS/NAP process. The support roles delivered by the EAA included the provision of technical expertise (as author, contributor or coordinator of preparatory expert studies), the drafting and editing of the policy paper, and implementation of various information activities towards the public. A broad participatory process conducted by the EAA was accompanying the strategy development from summer 2008 until summer 2011. All results gained from the participatory process are considered in the development of the NAS/NAP. Representatives of the provincial states and further relevant stakeholders (including scientists and representatives from other Federal Ministries) have also been involved in the establishment of a Monitoring and Evaluation system in Austria. The chosen approach (stakeholder survey and data collection) also ensures ongoing interaction across governance levels ad sectors. Diverse participatory elements were used for the revision of the NAP/NAS in 2016 and 2017 as well as in the ongoing Monitoring and Evaluation process.

Knowledge

With regard to knowledge transfer, the website of the BMNT reports about the ongoing political processes and further relevant activities on adaptation to climate change at the national level. As part of the participatory process accompanying the development of the Austrian Adaptation Strategy, a national climate change adaptation portal was set up to present Austria-specific information on climate change and adaptation, which also includes a database on adaptation research and practice. This platform is gradually expanding and serves as an entry point to up-to-date information on adaptation in Austria. Examples provided at the database shall help to increase general understanding of adaptation, and demonstrate that many initiatives involving adaptation have already been undertaken; although not necessarily under the headline of climate change adaptation.

In addition to the information available on the Internet, since January 2011 a regular newsletter on climate change adaptation provides practical information for governmental decision-makers, interest groups, private sector, etc. (designed and implemented by the Environment Agency Austria with financing from the Climate and Energy Fund).

The Austrian Met Service (ZAMG) runs an climate change information portal since 2010. This platform seeks to present sound scientific information on climate change in an understandable form. Furthermore, the Climate Change Centre Austria (CCCA) has set up a website which provides climate knowledge and climate data as well as and informs about research activities and relevant events. Also the website Klim[:A:]rtikulieren provides relevant information materials like animated videos, climate communication, fact-check on climate change and other relevant material.

Key results of the Austrian Climate Research Program (ACRP) have been published regularly under the title "ACRP in Essence" since 2014. They are summarizing outcomes of the ACRP research projects in a nut shell and aiming to make those outcomes accessible to policy makers and politicians. In order to support politicians and experts in the public administration of provincial states, regions and cities, as well as actors in regional management in developing adaptation strategies, a handbook with methods and tools which helps to tackle the challenges of adaptation was published. It provides guidance for the strategic and proactive examination of climate change impacts. The handbook is one of the main results of the project FAMOUS (Factory of Adaptation Measures operated ad different Scales) financed by the Climate and Energy Fund.

More guidelines have been developed on a variety of issues concerning the integration of adaptation as part of research projects, mainly financed by the ACRP. Examples are the research projects CcTalK!, which provided knowledge on how to communicate climate change adaptation to be able to increase awareness and motivate stakeholder to act on adaptation. Also the project ARISE developed a support system for climate-sensitive iterative risk management as a key adaptation approach. The "Strategic support for integrating climate change into project planning for large projects", as part of the research project ENVISAGE-CC, funded by the ACRP was published. The project succeeded in raising awareness of climate impacts with developers of large-scale infrastructure Projects, subject to EIA. The follow-up project SPECIFIC (SPEcific Climate change ForesIght in projeCt design) has broadened the target audience to environmental authorities and consultants (EIA assessors/practitioners), and focused on rail, highway and power grid projects, leading to the EIA climate-fit portal.

For raising public awareness on impacts and adaptation to climate change, the BMNT has published two brochures, one with sound arguments on Why we need to adapt and a second one which clarifies myths or factual errors. A booklet with good examples of adaptation in practice from Austrian municipalities was published, responding to strong demand from sub-national stakeholders for concrete real-world cases demonstrating municipal adaptation in practice.

International dimensions

In the NAS/NAP, cooperation to address common challenges with neighbouring countries is not explicitly addressed. Nevertheless, Austria is participating in several international partnerships that are actively working on climate change and adaptation issues, although it is not clear how these interact with the Austrian strategic approach to adaptation. 

Austria is a contracting Party to the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River, which adopted a Climate Adaptation Strategy in 2012. The Strategy is based on a thorough assessment of possible climate impacts and suggests possible means to adapt to and mitigate them. Austria is also a member country of the Alpine Convention, a framework that sets out general measures for sustainable development in the Alpine region. A ministerial declaration on climate change was adopted in 2006, followed in 2009 by an action plan of measures for the Alpine region to contribute to the reduction of emissions affecting the climate and the development of strategies to adapt to a changing environment. Within the Alpine convention, guidelines have been developed on local climate adaptation in relation to water management and natural hazards in the Alps. In addition, the recently established Advisory Committee on the Alpine Climate (Alpine Climate Board), chaired by Austria under the Alpine Convention gathers climate change specialists from the eight Alpine States and observer organisations. The board will prepare recommendations for future reinforced action, for the attention of the next Alpine Conference in 2019, with the establishment of a climate-neutral Alpine space 2050 as the overarching goal.  

Federal Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism

National Focal Point 

Dr. Barbara Kronberger-Kießwetter

Deputy-Head of Directorate IV/1 – Climate Policy Coordination

Stubenbastei 5, 1010 Wien

Tel. (+43 1) 71100 611739

Mail barbara.kronberger@bmnt.gv.at 

Website https://www.bmnt.gv.at/ 

[Disclaimer]
The information presented in these pages is based on the reporting according to the Monitoring Mechanism Regulation (Regulation (EU) No 525/2013) and updates by the EEA member countries