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4.2.4. Adaptation funding

The EU does not have a specific fund targeted on climate change adaptation. The EC provides funding opportunities for climate change adaptation through existing structures. Substantial mainstreaming of climate change adaptation in funding programmes has taken place in recent years. The EU has agreed that at least 20 % of its budget for 2014-2020 should be spent on climate-related action (EC, 2011a; European Council, 2013). The Commission proposal for the EU budget for 2021-2027 suggests to increase the share of climate-related spending from 20 % to 25 % across all EU programmes, the equivalent of €320 billion (EC, 2018b).

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Climate-related spending is tracked through ‘EU climate markers’, which are adapted from the ‘Rio markers’ developed by the OECD. Analyses by the Commission indicate that the EU is broadly on track towards the 20 % target, but further efforts are needed (EC, 2016b). A report by the European Court of Auditors acknowledged that ambitious work was underway, and that the target has led to more, and better focussed, climate action in the European Regional Development Fund and the Cohesion Fund. At the same time, the report stressed a serious risk that the 20% target will not be met, and that no significant shift towards climate action has occurred in some areas, such as the areas of agriculture, rural development and fisheries. The report also emphasized methodological weaknesses of the current tracking method, including the failure of tracking mitigation and adaptation spending separately (European Court of Auditors, 2016). Broadly similar conclusions, and various suggestions for improved climate mainstreaming in the next EU Multiannual Framework (2021-2027), have been reached in a recent study for DG CLIMA (Forster et al., 2017).

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The key funding structures for climate action include LIFE and Horizon 2020, the EU Solidarity Fund (for natural disasters), as well as the five European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIFs) (EC, 2016h):

  • European Regional Development Fund (ERDF);
  • European Social Fund (ESF);
  • Cohesion Fund (CF);
  • European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD); and
  • European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF).

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As discussed in Section 0, the ERDF and the CF have provided funding for energy-related major projects that are required to incorporate adaptation considerations. The ESF provides funding predominantly for investing in human capital, for the improvement of job prospects. The ESF can contribute to climate change adaptation through training of high-, medium- and low- skilled workers, particularly for the refurbishment, renovation and retrofitting for climate resilience of buildings (EC, 2015b). Overall allocation of ESIFs towards supporting climate change adaptation is 15 % (and 25.6 % towards climate action in total). Nevertheless, certain measures have not received sufficient attention , such as the protection of energy infrastructure from flooding (COWI, 2016, 2017).

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