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Financial adaptation to disaster risk in the European Union Identifying roles for the public sector

Stine Aakre, Ilona Banaszak, Reinhard Mechler, Dirk Theodor Georg Rübbelke, Anita Wreford, Harvir Kalirai

Increasing losses from weather related extreme events coupled with limited coping capacity suggest a need for strong adaptation commitments, of which public sector responses to adjustments to actual and expected climate stimuli are key. The European Commission has started to address this need in the emerging European Union (EU) climate adaptation strategy; yet, a specific rationale for adaptation interventions has not clearly been identified, and the economic case for adaptation to extremes remains vague. Basing the diagnosis on economic welfare theory and an empirical analysis of the current EU and member states’ roles in managing disaster risk, we discuss how and where the public sector may intervene for managing climate variability and change. We restrict our analysis to financial disaster management, a domain of adaptation intervention, which is of key concern for the EU adaptation strategy. We analyse three areas of public sector interventions, supporting national insurance systems, providing compensation to the affected post event as well as intergovernmental loss sharing through the EU solidarity fund, according to the three government functions of allocation, distribution, and stabilization suggested by welfare theory, and suggest room for improvement.

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