Key Messages 
  • Willingness to pay for additional flood and drought adaptation measures as increased monthly bill for water consumption paid by a household ranges from €15 to €19 in the Czech Republic, from €35 to €45 in Italy, and from €33 to €44 in the UK (using market exchange rate).
  • In all three countries, citizens prefer reducing the severity of climate change impacts as opposed to reducing the number of affected people in the population.
  • British citizens prefer adaptation programs that reduce the impacts of floods; whereas Czech citizens consider reducing the impacts of droughts a more important objective.
  • Rainwater harvesting is the most popular measure in all three countries. In the United Kingdom, large reservoirs and dams come second in preference; large dams being the least popular measure among Czech citizens.
  • Citizens in all three countries express relatively high preference for two nature-based adaptation measures: creating wetlands and changing the use of agriculture land.

Context

Climate change is expected to impact the water system in many countries, leading to more extreme weather patterns, causing for example higher likelihoods of flooding, drought and heat waves and also increasing the severity of such occurrences.

The research examined preferences of citizens of three European countries, the Czech Republic, Italy and the United Kingdom, for adaptation plans and measures to limit damages from floods and droughts. For this purpose, the researchers conducted a questionnaire survey in the three European countries. They used two discrete choice experiments to elicit individual preferences for adaptation options (the first one focused on trade-off between severity and size of droughts and flood risks, the second one aimed at specific adaptation measures) and applied standard econometric models to estimate marginal willingness-to-pay for the attributes of adaptive policies.

Policy and methodological developments 

The questionnaire survey took place in the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom and Italy between 23rd June and 14th August 2016. The three countries exemplify different political and socio-economic settings for the purpose of comparison. The survey included residents of these countries aged from 18 to 69 years. Data were collected through online access panels  using web-based questionnaires. The final sample includes in total 7,042 valid observations.

In the discrete choice experiments, respondents were asked to choose their preferred adaptation policy described by several characteristics, such as type of structural technical measures.  One of the characteristics was increased monthly bill for water consumption paid by a household, which allowed the analysts to estimate willingness to pay for climate adaptation policies. The costs were shown on the choice cards in national currencies of the three countries, but represent the same amounts in purchase power standards (PPS). The estimates of marginal willingness-to-pay for the characteristics of adaptive policies expressed in nominal euro are summarised in Table 1 and Table 2.

Table 1. Implicit Willingness-to-Pay values for the types of adaptation measures, in nominal euro per month and household (second discrete choice experiment on specific adaptation measures); estimates in the brackets are statistically not different from zero.

 

Droughts

Floods

 

Czech

Italy

UK

Italy

UK

Structural technical measures

Large reservoirs and dams

9.4 €

 15.7 €

 24.8 €

 27.4 €

 18.2 €

Small water reservoirs and ponds

 14.8 €

 17.3 €

 17.4 €

 

 

Rainwater harvesting

 16.4 €

 28.5 €

 23.9 €

 

 

Floodwalls, dikes

 

 

 

 32.1 €

 16.0 €

Flood-resistant materials

 

 

 

 33.2 €

 14.8 €

Maintenance of river beds

 

 

 

 56.4 €

 25.5 €

Restoration of buildings (ex post)

 

 

 

 26.3 €

 11.8 €

Structural nature-close measures

Creating wetlands (Flood: … or woodlands)

 15.5 €

 14.3 €

 20.2 €

 31.1 €

 32.4 €

Drought: Changes in the use of agricultural land
Flood: Restoration of natural areas (ex post)

 15.4 €

 17.5 €

 18.6 €

 21.1 €

 18.6 €

Green roofs on public buildings

 

 

 

 11.2 €

 16.9 €

Non-structural soft measures

Drought: Information on efficient water use
Flood: Information provision

5.4 €

 21.0 €

 11.5 €

 15.7 €

(4.0 €)

Drought: Drought risk management plans
Flood: Control on construction in vulnerable areas

6.3 €

 20.2 €

9.2 €

 40.0 €

 31.7 €

Improved land use planning

6.0 €

 18.6 €

 10.6 €

 

 

Tax relief on … (Drought: water efficient technologies) (Flood: flood protection measures)

6.0 €

 23.0 €

7.6 €

 24.3 €

 15.5 €

Tax relief for floods victims (ex post)

 

 

 

 22.7 €

 17.0 €

Higher charges (Drought: for large water extraction) (Flood: council tax in flood-prone areas)

(0.3 €)

6.6 €

5.7 €

(4.9 €)

(0.8 €)

Water consumption restrictions (ex post)

3.2 €

 13.1 €

4.8 €

 

 

Provision of flood insurance

 

 

 

 12.7 €

 22.1 €

Proportion of people at risk

(0.3 €)

1.2 €

1.2 €

(- 0.0 €)

2.1 €

 

Table 2. Implicit WTP values for reducing severity and size of the impact associated with droughts or floods, in nominal euro per month and household (first discrete choice experiment)

 

Czech Republic

Italy

United Kingdom

floods: small impacts

     6.2 €

   15.8 €

   27.2 €

floods: medium impacts

     7.5 €

   16.4 €

   22.4 €

droughts: small impacts

   11.4 €

   15.1 €

   22.1 €

droughts: medium impacts

     9.4 €

   14.2 €

   16.0 €

floods: size reduced by each percentage point

     (0.3 €)

     1.8 €

     1.9 €

droughts: size reduced by each percentage point

     1.6 €

     1.9 €

     1.5 €

 

Note: Severity of the impacts is compared to large impacts (reference category), while the size of the impacts is compared to expected percentage of people at risk without additional adaptation measures. The estimate in the brackets is not virtually different from zero.

While more than half of Italians and Czechs expect that their households will be exposed more often to impacts of heat waves and droughts over the next 10 years, only about 20 % of British are of the same opinion. The majority of British (67 %) think that they will be affected by heat waves and droughts with the same frequency.

Only small part of survey participants from all three countries expects frequency of floods to increase (18 % of Italians, 10 % of British and 8% of Czechs). Moreover, about a third of Italian and British respondents and 44 % of Czechs do not perceive to be at risk of flooding.

Most Italians and Czechs perceive droughts as a great risk for their households and relate droughts to climate change. More frequent droughts is the most often expected climate change impact on the respondents’ region and on respondents themselves from all consequences that were listed. Even half of Italian respondents think that they will be more vulnerable to drought. However, this is not the case for the British who agree with these statements much less (only 37 % agree that droughts will be consequences of climate change for their region and 24 % for themselves). 

A large share of people (47 % in the Czech Republic, 43 % in the UK, and even slightly more than half of Italians) perceive climate change as a serious problem for animals and plants and their habitats. Respondents see negative effects more likely to occur than positive ones. The least expected effect of climate changes in all countries is an improved economic situation both at regional and personal level. People are also rather sceptical about fewer winter related diseases and deaths. Compared to other countries, a larger share of Italians connects climate change with negative impacts and disagrees that climate change could have some positive impacts both at regional and personal level.

While Italians tend to perceive regulation of construction in vulnerable areas and maintenance of river beds or streams to be the most effective measures to limit flood damage, the British rate them less effective. Moreover, river beds or streams are not sufficiently maintained in Italy according to respondents. Also several other measures are perceived by Italians as less implemented than by the British, namely construction of buildings and infrastructure from flood-resistant materials, green roofs on public buildings, and restoration of natural areas after flooding, creating woodland or wetlands.

Most respondents view rainwater harvesting as effective. However, in the Czech Republic almost the same share of respondents (about 60 %) evaluates two nature-based adaptation measures (specifically creating wetlands and changing the use of agriculture land) as equally effective as rainwater harvesting. Half of Italian respondents and 43 % of British respondents find changing the use of agriculture land especially effective. British also rate building large reservoirs and dams as second most effective, while building large dams is the least effective measure among all structural measures for Czechs.

A much larger share of respondents from Italy thinks that a tax relief on water efficient technologies, information provision, and risk management plans are effective adaptation options than shares in the Czech Republic and in the UK. Higher charges for large water extraction are the least effective measure among all presented measures.

Only a small share of respondents perceives that the structural measures to limit drought damage are introduced sufficiently (ranging from 14 % to 25 %). Czechs are more critical than respondents from the other countries in evaluating level of implementation of several measures, specifically rainwater harvesting, creating wetlands and changes in the use of agriculture land. A third of Czechs perceives these measures as insufficiently implemented. About third of British and Italians are satisfied with the degree of implementation of water consumption restrictions and the degree of information provision.

Main implications and recommendations 

The results show differences in willingness-to-pay between floods and droughts, specific structural measures (natural and technical) and non-structural soft measures, and among the three countries. In all three countries, citizens expressed considerably high value of willingness to pay for additional adaptation measures for flood and drought prevention.

Citizens prefer measures which reduce the severity of climate change impacts (from large impacts to either medium, or to small impacts) over measures which reduce the number of affected people (expressed in percentage of people at risk). Also, citizens prefer rainwater harvesting as a measure compared to other nature-based and technical measures.

Policy makers from the UK, Poland and the Czech Republic can increase public support for their adaptation plans and measures by following the preferences described in this research. Policy makers from other countries may choose to use this information as a starting point for a separate inquiry at the local, regional or national level.

Policy makers can feel free to contact the researchers for assistance in utilizing the results (see contacts below).