Sixteen Ways to Adapt: A Comparison of State-Level Climate Change Adaptation Strategies in the Federal States of Germany

Climate change adaptation (CCA) strategies aim to reduce or prevent negative climate change impacts and, in some cases, maximise potential benefits. This analysis provides the first systematic assessment of all state adaptation strategies in Germany based on 2 main research questions: how comprehensive are German state CCA strategies, and to what extent do policy approaches and commitments vary within the federal context? Based on a qualitative analysis, this assessment focuses on 5 key themes synthesised from literature on CCA barriers and facilitating factors and climate policy analyses. It finds that state strategies tend to be non-committal sets of recommendations and that there is often a trade-off between the specificity of goals and level of commitment. While federalism allows for flexibility among state responses, the absence of federal mandates and policy standards allows some states to fall behind while others continue to develop their strategies to adapt.