National Heat Action Plan for Germany

Options for the design and implementation of a national heat action plan for Germany

Since the 1970s, heatwaves have been occurring with increasing frequency and intensity in Germany and Europe. It can be assumed that this trend will continue. Heat puts a strain on human health and can lead to serious illnesses, including cardiovascular diseases, and in extreme cases even to death. It also places a burden on the healthcare system. The heatwave in Europe in the summer of 2003, in which 70,000 people died across Europe, led to a more intensive debate on the subject. Special measures are needed to adapt to these changed conditions and effectively counteract potential risks and dangers.

The second Adaptation Action Plan (APA II) for the implementation of the German Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change (DAS) from 2015 stipulates that Heat Action Plans (HAPs) should be drawn up. This was confirmed again by APA III (2020). Heat action plans are an effective tool for preparing people and structures for extreme heat events and responding to them. In 2008, the WHO formulated guidelines for the implementation of heat action plans, on the basis of which the federal and state governments developed "Recommendations for the preparation of heat action plans to protect human health" in 2017. The eight core elements of heat action plans range from educational work and measures in the health sector to the use of heat warning systems or measures in the areas of urban planning and construction.

Since the publication of the recommendations for action by the federal and state governments, the first plans have been drawn up or are in progress at municipal and state level in Germany. At the same time, the possibilities of designing and implementing a heat action plan at national level in Germany are also being discussed.

On behalf of the Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMUV) and the Federal Environment Agency (UBA), the "NatHAP project" aims to investigate the possibilities and design of a national heat action plan from a technical and legal perspective in order to ensure effective health-related heat protection that is both short-term and sustainable. The heat protection activities of the Federal Ministry of Health will also be taken into account in an integrative manner.

Specifically, this research project will examine the extent to which a national heat action plan for Germany could be designed and legally anchored. The aim is to determine which specifications would be useful at national level and fall within the remit of the federal government or can be legally prescribed by the federal government. The municipalities, federal states and other interest groups and federal authorities will be involved in the analysis. The aim is also to work out how federal, state and local government control measures can work together to ensure the conditions for harmonized, effective health protection against increasing heat.

Methodological approach
The project is divided into 5 work packages (WP):

WP 1 aims to analyze the procedures in other countries as well as the federal states and municipalities in the implementation of national, regional or local heat action plans. It is intended to provide the background for the work in the subsequent work packages.

WP 2 comprises the analysis of relevant aspects of the "Recommendations for the preparation of heat action plans" from 2017 with regard to their medical and environmental health effectiveness in the context of public health protection.

The subject of WP 3 is a policy-related analysis of the feasibility of individual measures in a heat action plan. Administrative aspects and the classification of measures in specific policy areas are taken into account.

As part of WP 4, the legal connection of individual measures to already existing or possibly to be created legal structures will be analyzed. In addition, the possibility of a legal basis for a national heat action plan will be investigated and discussed.

WPs 1 to 4 will each be accompanied by a thematic conference in which the relevant issues will be discussed with experts from science and administration in the respective subject areas.
In WP 5, the final review and synopsis of the results from WPs 1 to 4 is to take place. In particular, it must be examined whether the analyzed and proposed technical, political and legal aspects of the measures can be designed and implemented. The results are to be presented at a final conference.

The IOER is responsible for the legal aspects of the project.

The Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development is jointly funded by the federal government and the federal states.

FS Sachsen

This measure is co-financed by tax funds on the basis of the budget approved by the Saxon State Parliament.