EIA Guidelines for Assessing the Impact of Climate Change on a Project

The following guidelines provide instruction for government agencies and project proponents on how to evaluate climate risk in the context of environmental impact assessment (EIA). These guidelines are intended to facilitate an assessment of: (i) how climate change may impact a project and its surrounding environment, (ii) the implications that this may have for the performance and environmental consequences of the project, and (iii) the selection of appropriate adaptation and resilience measures to address climate-related risks.  For guidelines on how to assess greenhouse gas emissions and the contribution of a project to climate change, click here.

Council on Environmental Quality

Guidance on Consideration of Climate Change in NEPA Reviews, Council on Environmental Quality, August 1, 2016

This guidance describes how federal agencies should account for the effects of a proposal on climate change (using GHG emissions as a proxy for those effects) as well as the effects of climate change on the proposal.

Draft Guidance on Consideration of Greenhouse Gas Emissions in NEPA Reviews, Council on Environmental Quality (2019)

This guidance describes how federal agencies should account for the effects of a proposal on climate change (using GHG emissions as a proxy for those effects) as well as the effects of climate change on the proposal. The 2019 guidance is generally considered to be a weakening of the 2016 guidance.

Department of Defense

Water Resource Policies and Authorities Incorporating Sea-Level Change Considerations in Civil Works Programs, Engineering Circular No. 1165-2-211 (2009)

Provides guidance for incorporating the direct and indirect physical effects of projected future sea-level change in managing, planning, engineering, designing, constructing, operating, and maintaining USACE projects and systems of projects.

Department of Transportation

Climate Change in NEPA Case Studies, Federal Highway Administration (undated)

This guide provides examples of how climate impacts were addressed in NEPA reviews of four transportation projects. It identifies lessons learned and offers recommendations for integrating climate considerations into future reviews of transportation projects.

Climate Change Adaptation Tools, Federal Highway Administration, Office of Planning, Environment, and Realty (2018) 

This collection of downloadable tools is centered on climate change adaptation in the transportation sector. Tools include a CMIP Climate Data Processing Tool, a Sensitivity Matrix, and a Vulnerability Assessment Scoring Tool.

Climate Change Adaptation Guide for Transportation Systems Management, Operations, and Maintenance, FHWA-HOP-15-026 (2015)

This guide provides information and resources regarding the incorporation of climate change considerations into planning for practitioners involved in the management, operations, and maintenance of surface transportation systems at State departments of transportation and local agencies. 

Highways in the River Environment - Floodplains, Extreme Events, Risk, Resilience, Hydraulic Engineering Circular No. 17, 2nd Edition (2016)

This manual provides technical guidance and methods for assessing the vulnerability of transportation facilities to extreme events and climate change in riverine environments, focusing on quantifying exposure to flood events. It contains techniques for predicting floods and descriptions of emissions scenarios, statistical downscaling, regional climate models, and global climate models. 

Highways in the Coastal Environment: Assessing Extreme Events, Hydraulic Engineering Circular 25, Vol. 2 (2014)

Provides technical guidance and methods for assessing the vulnerability of coastal transportation facilities to extreme events and climate change, focusing on sea level rise, storm surge, and waves. Approaches are based upon using risk-based, data driven concepts manifested by three different levels of effort ranging from use of available data to original numerical modeling. The manual also contains a method for computing relative sea level rise based on local tidal gages and likely impacts of climate change.

Climate Change, Extreme Weather Events, and the Highway System: Practitioner’s Guide and Research Report, National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Report 750: Strategic Issues Facing Transportation, Volume 2 (2014)

Provides guidance on adaptation strategies to the likely impacts of climate change through 2050 in the planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of infrastructure assets in the United States (and through 2100 for sea-level rise).

Impacts of Climate Change and Variability on Transportation Systems and Infrastructure: The Gulf Coast Study, Phase 2, Task 3.1, Screening for Vulnerability, in Engineering Assessments of Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Measures, FWHA-HEP-15-004 (2014)

In order to overcome the infeasibility of doing detailed vulnerability assessments for all individual assets, this study developed a screening approach that helps identify which assets could be considered more likely to be vulnerable to future climate conditions. The hallmark of this approach is the use of “indicators,” which are characteristics that may indicate the degree to which an asset is exposed, sensitive, or able to adapt to a particular climate stressor. Using indicators, each asset receives a score based on exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity; these scores are then rolled up into an overall vulnerability score. Assets with high vulnerability scores should be the first assets to receive more detailed attention to determine their specific vulnerabilities and/or to begin adapting to their vulnerabilities. Meanwhile, assets with lower vulnerability scores may not need immediate action.

Impacts of Climate Change and Variability on Transportation Systems and Infrastructure, The Gulf Coast Study, Phase 2, Task 3.2, in Engineering Assessments of Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Measures, FWHA-HEP-15-004 (2014)

Discusses a series of engineering assessments on specific transportation facilities in Mobile that evaluated whether those facilities might be vulnerable to projected changes in climate, and what specific adaptation measures could be effective in mitigating those vulnerabilities. It includes a description of the climate impact assessment process used, as well as findings that may apply more generally to engineering design practices, operations and maintenance practices, and other lessons learned.

Climate Change & Extreme Weather Vulnerability Assessment Framework, Federal Highway Administration, FHWA-HEP-13-005 (2012)

The Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA’s) Climate Change and Extreme Weather Vulnerability Assessment Framework is a guide for transportation agencies interested in assessing their vulnerability to climate change and extreme weather events. It gives an overview of key steps in conducting vulnerability assessments and uses in-practice examples to demonstrate a variety of ways to gather and process information. The framework is comprised of three key steps: defining study objectives and scope; assessing vulnerability; and incorporating results into decision making.

A Framework for Considering Climate Change in Transportation and Land Use Scenario Planning: Lessons Learned from an Interagency Pilot Project on Cape Cod: Final ReportFHWA-HEP-12-028 (2012)

The Interagency Transportation, Land Use, and Climate Change Pilot Project utilized a scenario planning process to develop a multi-agency transportation- and land use-focused development strategy for Cape Cod, Massachusetts, with the intention of achieving a reduction in future greenhouse gas emissions and considering the potential impacts of sea-level rise on the region. The outcomes of this scenario planning process will inform and support the region’s long-range transportation planning and other related efforts, as well as the planning efforts of local, state, and federal agencies.

Environmental Protection Agency

Climate Change Adaptation Resource Center (ARC-X) 

This compilation of interactive resources assists local governments in determining the risks posed by climate change and adaptation strategies across various areas of interest. Users are able to tailor their search by geographic region of the U.S., by type of environmental issue such as air quality or water management, and by type of adaptation planning such as comprehensive or sector-based. 

CREAT Risk Assessment Application for Water Utilities, United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

This application supplies wastewater, drinking water, and stormwater utility owners and operators with relevant information in a five module design to better assess and address current and predicted climate change risks. It was constructed under the EPA’s Climate Ready Water Utilities initiative. 

Being Prepared for Climate Change: A Workbook for Developing Risk-Based Adaptation Plans, Climate Ready Estuaries Program, EPA Office of Water (2014)

This workbook draws on the Environmental Protection Agency’s experience with the National Estuary Program, the Climate Ready Estuaries Program, and watershed management to aid organizations in conducting climate change vulnerability assessments at the scale of coastal watersheds and in creating adaptation plans.

EIA Technical Review Guideline: Non-Metal and Metal Mining Volume 1, EPA/315R11002 (2011)

This is a general guidance document for EIA of mining facilities. It instructs engineers to consider the impacts of global climate change, including projections of increased extreme weather events, e.g., in the design of tailings management systems. But it does not contain extensive guidance on how to conduct such assessments.

General Services Administration

Sustainable Facilities Tool: Climate Adaptation, Sustainable Facilities Tool (visited June 2020)

As part of its Sustainable Facilities tool, GSA has introduced a “climate change risk workshop process” that combines best practices from the federal adaptation community to help users identify climate risks and develop strategies to secure vulnerable real property investments and supply chains. It prescribes a multi-step process for conducting vulnerability assessments and implementing adaptation measures. The tool is intended to help assess the vulnerability of specific assets and infrastructure to climate change; it does not provide instruction on how to assess environmental impacts of a project in light of climate change.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Adapting to Climate Change: A Planning Guide for State Coastal Managers, Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (2010)

The purpose of this guide is to help U.S. state and territorial (state) coastal managers develop and implement adaptation plans to reduce the impacts and consequences of climate change and climate variability (climate change) in their purview. It focuses primarily on providing support for broader planning processes, but does contain some relevant guidelines for assessing physical vulnerability to climate change and implementing adaptation measures.

US Agency for International Development

Climate Change Adaptation Programs (2020)

This webpage contains USAID’s programs that help “countries and communities around the world access and use climate and weather data and tools and develop strategies to build resilience to climate variability and risks, whether from sudden events such as floods and storms or from slower-moving events such as droughts and sea-level rise.” Such programs include Servir-Data that supplies countries with NASA satellite data and decision-support tools, and a Climate-Resilient Development Framework that offers a five-stage approach to systematically assessing climate-related risks.

Adapting to Climate Variability and Change: A Guidance Manual for Development Planning (2007)

This guidance manual takes a broad perspective on adaptation planning, but it does outline an approach for project-level vulnerability risk assessment and the selection of adaptation options. See page 11 for a useful diagram of the approach.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Procedures to Evaluate Sea Level Change: Impact, Responses, and Adaptation, Engineer Pamphlet 1100-2-1 (2019)

This pamphlet provides guidance on evaluating and adapting to the “direct and indirect physical effects of projected future sea level rise . . . on USACE projects” in NEPA and other planning processes. It concludes that, to evaluate the effects of climate change on projects in NEPA reviews, “methods are needed to compare project performance across a range of possible futures” and identifies data and tools that can be used for such comparison.

Efforts to Assess the Impact of Extreme Weather Events, GAO-15-660 (2015)

This study explains how the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) “considers the potential impact of extreme weather events in its planning and operations of water resources infrastructure projects by, among other things, updating and developing guidance on how to incorporate different extreme weather scenarios in its planning of projects.” It tabulates the variety of hydrologic and forecasting data collected by federal agencies to facilitate management of such infrastructure in the USACE’s Civil Works Transformation Initiative. 

Screening-Level Assessment of Projects with Respect to Sea Level Change, Civil Works Technical Report (2015) 

This report summarizes the Initial Vulnerability Assessments (IVAs) of hundreds of coastal projects completed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) district staff. It contains information regarding the development of the comprehensive evaluation with respect to sea level (CESL) web-based tool, the procedure used to collect IVA data, and the findings of the screenings. The CESL tool is available to others to integrate climate assessment, preparedness, and resilience with long-term planning. 

Incorporating Sea Level Change in Civil Works Programs, Engineering Regulation No. 1100-2-8162 (2013)

This report provides guidance for incorporating the direct and indirect physical effects of projected future sea-level change in managing, planning, engineering, designing, constructing, operating, and maintaining USACE projects and systems of projects.

Sea-Level Change Considerations for Civil Works Programs, Engineering Circular No. 1165-2-212 (2011)

An earlier guidance preceding the 2013 update, above. 

How to Incorporate SLR in Civil Works Programs, USACE Circular No. 2265-2-212 (2011)

Provides United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) guidance for incorporating the direct and indirect physical effects of projected future sea-level change across the project life cycle in managing, planning, engineering, designing, constructing, operating, and maintaining USACE projects and systems of projects.

U.S. Forest Service

Climate Change Considerations in Project Level NEPA Analysis (2009)

Primarily concerns land use actions and climate change mitigation, but includes relevant information for assessing climate change impacts on baseline environmental conditions and implications for the vulnerability of the affected environment. Recommends that EIS preparers consider measures to enhance adaptive capacity in alternatives analysis.

U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP)

Chapter 28: Reducing Risks Through Adaptation Actions, Impact, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States: Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), Vol. 2., U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) (2018)

This report -- part of an environmental research program that presents work to the U.S. Congress and the President every four years -- focuses on climate change for 10 regions and 18 national topics. Chapter 28: Reducing Risks Through Adaptation Actions highlights the five general stages of climate adaptation (awareness, assessment, planning, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation) and discusses how decision-makers and developers in public and private sectors can prepare for climate impacts such as sea level rise, heat waves, wildfires, and flooding. 



State of California Sea-Level Rise Guidance, California Ocean Protection Council (2018)

This guidance provides official sea level rise projections for the state of California and instructions on how to integrate these projections into planning processes and project design.

State of California Sea-Level Rise Guidance Document, CA Climate Action Team, Coastal and Ocean Working Group (2013)

An earlier version of the 2018 document, above.

Climate Change Handbook for Regional Water Planning, California Department of Water Resources (2011)

Developed cooperatively by the CA Department of Water Resources (DWR), The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Resources Legacy Fund, and The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Climate Change Handbook for Regional Water Planning provides a framework for considering climate change in water management planning. Key decision considerations, resources, tools, and decision options are presented that will guide resource managers and planners as they develop means of adapting their programs to a changing climate.

Guidance on Incorporating Sea Level Rise: For use in the planning and development of project initiation documents, California Department of Transportation (2011)

Similar to sea-level rise guidance document noted above, but with specific focus on integrating sea level rise considerations into transportation projects.

Guidance for Incorporating Sea Level Rise into Capital Planning in San Francisco: Assessing Vulnerability, Risk, and Adaptation, San Francisco, Sea Level Rise Committee of SF Adapt for the San Francisco Capital Planning Committee (2014)

This guidance provides a framework for considering sea level rise within the capital planning processes for the City and County of San Francisco, CA. The guidance includes information on:

  • official estimates of sea level rise
  • sea level rise scenario selection
  • sea level rise inundation mapping
  • vulnerability and risk assessment
  • adaptation planning
  • permitting and regulatory considerations

It also includes examples of how the guidance would be applied with respect to different types of projects.


Interim Protocol on Climate Adaptation and Resiliency, Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (2021)

This protocol requires the proponents of projects subject to environmental review under the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act to provide specified information “to assist in evaluation of a project’s climate risks and adaptation strategies.” It states that project proponents should “utilize the best available climate science data and projections for Massachusetts in evaluating risks and impacts associated with sea level rise, [changes in] the amount, frequency and timing of precipitation, and increases in average temperature [and] frequency of extreme events.”

Massachusetts State Hazard Mitigation and Climate Adaptation Plan, Office of the Governor, Commonwealth of Massachusetts (2018)

This Plan covers environmental risk assessment in five key sectors and describes preparedness and adaptation methods that can reduce detrimental impacts from climate change and natural disasters. The Plan was enacted in order to fulfill Massachusetts Governor Baker’s 2016 Executive Order No. 569: Establishing an Integrated Climate Change Strategy for the Commonwealth. 

Draft MEPA Climate Change Adaptation and Resiliency Policy, Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (2015)

Provides specific directions on how agencies should assess the impacts of climate change during EIA. Identifies three key types of impacts that should be evaluated:

  • Sea level rise, coastal flooding and storm surge
  • Impacts associated with changes in precipitation
  • Impacts associated with changes in temperature
  • Requires preparation of a “climate impact assessment” to “evaluate how a project may be impacted by climate change related events and how the project itself may contribute to, or reduce, climate change impacts. Required elements include:
  1. Detailed description of the site and proposed project
  2. Evaluation of how climate change may impact the project site and proposed infrastructure
  3. Evaluation of mitigation alternative and measures to identify commitments
  4. The guidance also provides instructions on how to address uncertainty, risk analysis and adaptive capacity.


Revised Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) Guidance: Developing a Carbon Footprint and Incorporating Climate Adaptation and Resilience, Minnesota Environmental Quality Board (2021)

This guide provides state agencies with advice on assessing “[h]ow climate change may influence [the] environmental effects [of a project] and potential adaptations to reduce risk and increase resilience” in environmental reviews under the Minnesota Environmental Policy Act. It identifies key climate change trends that should be analyzed and tools and data that can be used to aid the analysis.

Environmental Review Advisory Panel Report, Minnesota Environmental Quality Board (2018)

This report recommends that environmental reviews under the Minnesota Environmental Policy Act assess “the project’s adaptation planning" and that project proponents be required to “provide climate impact information” to inform the assessment.

New York

Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Climate Change, CEQR Technical Manual, New York City Mayor's Office of Environmental Coordination (2020)

The manual is an updated version of the 2014 edition listed below. The manual states that it may "be appropriate to provide a qualitative discussion of the potential effects of climate change on a proposed project in [the] environmental review." The manual offers specific recommendations for evaluating risks from sea level rise, increases in storm surge, and coastal flooding, and links to relevant datasets and mapping tools. 

Special Issue: Advancing Tools and Methods for Flexible Adaptation Pathways and Science Policy Integration, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Volume 1439 (2019)

In this publication, the New York City Panel on Climate Change recommends tools and methods for observing, projecting, and mapping climate extremes and sea level rise, monitoring risks, and developing resilient infrastructure, policies, and programs. 

NYC Flood Hazard Mapper, New York City Department of City Planning (2017)

This interactive tool provides a comprehensive view of the coastal flood hazards caused by climate change that threaten New York City and is “intended to enable more informed decision-making by residents, property and business owners, architects and engineers, and policy-makers.”

Projected Sea-Level Rise - Express Terms, 6 NYCRR 490, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (2017)

This document provides guidance regarding projected sea-level rise over various time intervals to developers, planners, and policymakers in New York. Part 490 establishes projections in accordance with the Community Risk and Resiliency Act, which ensures the consideration of climate risk in certain State decisions.  For further discussion of these regulations, see this article.

Commissioner’s Policy – Climate Change and DEC Action, Department of Environmental Conservation (2010)

This policy document directs the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) staff to “identify potential adverse impacts from climate change” on all DEC programs, “incorporate climate change adaptation strategies into applicable DEC programs, actions and activities” and to “use the best available scientific information of environmental conditions resulting from the impacts of climate change.”

CEQR Technical Manual, New York City, Mayor’s Office of Environmental Coordination (2014)

Not detailed guidance, but it does instruct agencies to consider climate impacts in CEQR reviews: “Although significant climate change impacts are unlikely to occur in the analysis year for most projects, depending on a project’s sensitivity, location, and useful life, it may be appropriate to provide a qualitative discussion of the potential effects of climate change on a proposed project in environmental review. Such a discussion should focus on early integration of climate change considerations into the project and may include proposals to increase climate resilience and adaptive management strategies to allow for uncertainties in environmental conditions resulting from climate change.”


Guidance for NEPA and SEPA Project-Level Climate Change Evaluations, Washington State Department of Transportation (2017)

This guidance outlines an analytical process and provides template language for assessing the impacts of climate change on all WSDOT projects subject to NEPA and SEPA.

Guidance for NEPA and SEPA Project-Level Climate Change Evaluations, Washington State Department of Transportation (2014)

An earlier version of the 2017 document, above.

Preparing for Climate Change: A Guidebook for Local, Regional, and State Governments, King County, Climate Impacts Group, and ICLEI (2007)

Provides step-by-step guidance on how state and local decision-makers can prepare for the impacts of climate change within their jurisdiction. It does not specifically discuss integrating climate risk into EIA, but it does provide some guidance on vulnerability and risk assessments for physical infrastructure.

European Union

Environmental Impact Assessment of Projects: Guidance on the Preparation of the Environmental Impact Assessment Report, European Commission (2017)

This guidance document details particularly the screening, scoping, and preparation of an EIA report. It provides practical advice to developers, competent authorities, EU member states, and EIA practitioners.

Integrating Climate Change Information and Adaptation in Project Development, European Commission (2016)

This report, developed by the European Financing Institutions Working Group on Adaptation to Climate Change (EUFIWACC), provides guidance on integrating climate change adaptation into upstream planning and policymaking. The report underscores the importance of assessments initiated in the early stages of development and communicating findings in a transparent way in order to be integrated into financing agreements and project design documents.

Principles and Recommendations for Integrating Climate Change Adaptation Considerations Under the 2013-2020 European Maritime and Fisheries Fund Operational Programmes, European Commission (2013)

This working document focuses on the integration of climate adaptation into the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy and Integrated Maritime Policy during the 2014-2020 European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) Operational Programmes. Addressed to the stakeholders of the EMFF programmes, it supplies advice on how to achieve such integration.

Adapting Infrastructure to Climate Change, European Commission (2013)

This working document acts as a companion to the Communication “An EU Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change.” It describes the efforts of the European Union in promoting and financing climate change adaptation in various infrastructure sectors, including energy, transport, and buildings.

Principles and Recommendations for Integrating Climate Change Adaptation Considerations Under the 2014-2020 Rural Development Programmes, European Commission (2013) 

This working document focuses on the integration of climate adaptation into the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) during the programming cycle for the 2014-2020 Rural Development Programmes (RDPs). Addressed to the managing authorities and stakeholders involved in the Programmes, this document’s goal is to ensure that climate adaptation objectives are employed within specific agricultural and forestry activities. 

Guidance on Integrating Climate Change and Biodiversity into Strategic Environmental Assessment, European Commission (2013)

Outlines overarching principles as well as pragmatic considerations for addressing climate change (mitigation and adaptation) as well as biodiversity in EIA.  Provides a list of key questions for identifying climate change adaptation issues, and lists the considerations that should factor into the assessment of how climate change will impact the environmental baseline, the vulnerability of built infrastructure, and adaptation opportunities (p. 42-45).

Guidelines for Project Managers: Making Vulnerable Investments Climate Resilient, non-binding report submitted to European Commission, Climate Risk Management Ltd. (2012)

These Guidelines form part of the overall EU effort to mainstream climate change adaptation, following on from the White Paper on Adapting to Climate Change published by the Commission in 2009. They are designed to provide support to developers of physical assets and infrastructure. They provide information on the steps that can be undertaken to integrate climate resilience within a familiar project lifecycle appraisal practiced by project developers.  In particular, they explain when and how to apply seven modules to: consider how a project is vulnerable to climate variability and change, assess current and future climate risks to the success of the project, identify and appraise relevant and cost-effective adaptation options to build climate resilience, and integrate adaptation measures (resilience measures) into the project lifecycle.


Strategic Assessment of Climate Change Revised, Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (2020)

This government agency prepares impact assessments for various projects, as well as provides guidance to practitioners on performing high-quality impact assessments regarding environmental, social, economic, and health concerns. Specifically, the Strategic Assessment of Climate Change provides detailed guidance on climate change impact assessment, including the determination of whether a project will achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. (See https://www.canada.ca/en/impact-assessment-agency.html for more helpful resources from the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada). 

Guidelines for the Preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement, Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (2018) 

This guide identifies the baseline information requirements for the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), in accordance with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012. It includes section 6.6.2 “Effects of the Environment on the Project” that details how an EIS should analyze local conditions and event probability patterns, as well as the long-term effects of climate change, to create planning, design, and construction strategies that minimize detrimental impacts of the environment on the project.

Assessing the Treatment of Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation in Project-Level EAs in the Canadian Mining Sector, Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Division, Natural Resources Canada (2014)

This study explores how climate change both affects mining operations in Canada and exacerbates a mine’s environmental impact. It focuses on six recent project Environmental Assessments in the quartz, mineral, bitumen, and potash mining sub-sectors.

Incorporating Climate Change Considerations in Environmental Assessment: General Guidance for Practitioners, Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (2003)

Includes information on:

  • Methods that can be used to obtain and evaluate information concerning the impacts of climate change on a project
  • Key sources of information that practitioners can use to address climate change considerations in project environmental assessments
  • Methodology to encourage consistent consideration of climate change in the environmental assessment process across federal, provincial and territorial jurisdictions

The guidance indicates that, where the risks associated with climate change are associated with the private sector only, the project proponent can choose to absorb this risk. However, if the risks could potentially impact the project, they must be accounted for (and possibly mitigated) in the EIS.

Five step process:

  1. Preliminary scope for impacts considerations
  2. dentify impacts consideration: more detailed collection of regional climate change and project specific information
  3. Assess impacts and risks
  4. Develop impact management plans
  5. Monitoring, follow-up and adaptive management.

Climate Change Adaption Guidelines for Sea Dikes and Coastal Flood Hazard Land Use, British Columbia, Ministry of Environment (2011)

This document provides guidelines for the design of sea dikes to protect low lying lands that are exposed to coastal flood hazards arising from their exposure to the sea and to expected sea level rise due to climate change.

Guide to Considering Climate Change in Environmental Assessments in Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia Environment (2011)

Describes how climate change considerations should be incorporated into EIA processes and components of EIA documents, including: (1) project description, (2) existing environment, (3) issue scoping, (4) identification of valued environmental components, (5) impact assessment, (6) identification of significant impacts, (7) effects of the environment on the project, (8) mitigation and monitoring.  Recommends including an adaptation plan for projects that are identified as medium or high risk for climate change impacts.

Practitioner’s Guide: Incorporating Climate Change into the Environmental Impact Assessment Process, Nova Scotia, ClimAdapt (2003)

An earlier Nova Scotia guidance preceding the 2011 update, above.


Adaptation Handbook: Undertaking Risk Treatment for Coastal Climate Change Risks in the Republic of Kiribati, C. Elrick & R. Kay, prepared for the Kiribati Adaptation Project Phase II (KAP II), Government of Kiribati (2009)

Outlines a step-by-step procedure for reviewing climate-related risks (primarily coastal risks) and selecting risk mitigation measures.


Environmental Assessment for Climate-Smart Decision Making, The Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment (NCEA) (2017)

The NCEA presents twelve cases in which impact assessment has led to climate-friendly development. In these cases, impact assessment has resulted in projects that contributed to climate change mitigation, adaptation, and/or management.


Environmental Assessment in Landscape Management, The Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment (NCEA) (2020)

This document presents ten cases from different countries of environmental impact assessment in landscape management.

Strategic Environmental Assessment for Sustainable Development of the Hydropower Sector, The Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment (NCEA) (2021)

This publication focuses on how strategic environmental assessment (SEA) can be used as a tool to promote sustainable practices in the hydropower sector, including building and exploiting dams.

Climate Change in Water Management, Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment (2010)

This report first “presents a framework for adaptation and presents methodologies, methods and tools that are available internationally to assess potential climate change impacts, vulnerability, and adaptation options.” It then determines which of these tools are appropriate for application in the water sector in The Netherlands.

Strategic Environmental Assessment for River Basin and Delta Planning, Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment (2018)

This document provides examples of the value of using Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) to influence sustainable management plans for delta systems and river basins. It also identifies how climate change considerations within an SEA can be leveraged to develop adaptation interventions and resilience strategies at a sectoral level.

A Strategic Approach to Hydropower Development: Applying Hydropower by Design within the context of Strategic Environmental Assessment to achieve hydropower goals in a sustainable and equitable manner, Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment (NCEA), The Nature Conservancy (2019) 

This document explains the integrated process of utilizing Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and Hydropower by Design (HbD) to assist “those involved in various stages of hydropower planning, assessment and decision-making (i) in the context of a national energy policy or plan, (ii) at different locations within a river basin or multiple basins, (iii) in a basin with potentially conflicting water uses or expected to be affected by climate change, (iv) in a transboundary river basin, or (v) in the context of upgrading, expanding or decommissioning of existing facilities.” It describes how SEA and HbD streamline Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) by assessing consequences of climate change on plans “in a much earlier phase at broader geographic and temporal scales.”

The NCEA’s Recommendations on Climate Change in Environmental Assessment, Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment (NCEA) (2009)

Describes the NCEA’s approach to assessing climate change adaptation during the EIA process. Notes that the assessment depends on circumstantial factors, including the local climatological impacts in the long and short term; the nature of the area in which the adaptation must take place; an estimate of the risks; how the additional short-term costs relate to the costs avoided in the longer term (i.e. costs that increase as a result of management and maintenance, costs of later compulsory modifications, and costs incurred because there is now no room for other functions, such as water storage).

If adaptation is deemed to be a factor of significance, the NCEA requires information to be given on how the initiative can best respond to the impacts of climate change: how the risk of damage can be limited, and at the same time how the quality of life, the spatial quality and the safety can be maintained or enhanced. They also require information to be given about whether the project might hamper necessary adaptation measures in the future, for example by taking up space and thereby making it no longer possible to store water.

New Zealand

The Guide to Preparing your Environmental Impact Assessment for Concessions Applications, Department of Conservation

This guidance is geared towards individuals who are proposing concessions projects. It helps them identify any potential environmental impacts of their proposed project, and offers suggestions on how to mitigate those impacts. It also helps them with completing their EIA for submission.

Coastal Hazards and Climate Change: Guidance for Local Government, New Zealand Ministry for the Environment (2017)

This guide centers on understanding, assessing, and adapting to the current and anticipated coastal hazard risks -- such as coastal inundation, coastal erosion, and groundwater impacts -- from climate change in New Zealand. It provides technical advice for local government and is also “useful for a wider range of practitioners involved in providing infrastructure and services to coastal areas, and in new or redevelopment projects.”

Preparing for Future Flooding: A Guide for Local Government in New Zealand, New Zealand Ministry for the Environment (2010)

This guide draws on work from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research and the New Zealand Ministry for the Environment to describe climate change impacts on flooding from freshwater systems, methodologies for estimating such impacts, and risk assessment and management frameworks for urban and policy planners, ‘lifeline’ utilities and infrastructure developers, and asset managers.

Climate Change Effects and Impacts Assessment: A Guidance Manual for Local Government in New Zealand, New Zealand Ministry for the Environment (2008)

This Guidance Manual is designed to help local governments identify and quantify opportunities and hazards that climate change poses for their functions, responsibilities and infrastructure. Specifically, the guidance manual:

  • provides projections of future climate change around New Zealand
  • compares these projections with present climate extremes and variations
  • identifies potential effects on local government functions and services
  • outlines methods for assessing the likely magnitude of such effects
  • explains how this information can be applied to assess the risk associated with various climate change impacts
  • provides guidance on incorporating climate risk assessment into local government regulatory, assessment and planning processes.

United Kingdom

The Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations, UK (2017)

These regulations provide a framework for assessing the environmental impact of public and private projects. They require that any potential impact the project has on climate change be included in the EIA. (See also the Infrastructure Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2017 https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2017/572/made).

Strategic Environmental Assessment and Climate Change: Guidance for Practitioners, UK Environment Agency (2011)

This guidance provides general recommendations on how climate change issues can be considered in strategic environmental assessments (SEA) in England and Wales. It presents information on the causes and impacts of climate change and how they can be described and evaluated in SEA. It also describes how adaptation and mitigation measures can be developed through SEA.

Adapting to Climate Change: A Checklist for Development. London, Greater London Authority, London, London Climate Change Partnership (2005)

The overall aims of the document are to assist developers and their design teams to future- proof developments at the design stage, to incorporate resilience to climate change impacts within existing communities, and to help planners scrutinizing planning applications. The resulting checklist provides a useful framework for reviewing climate change impacts on urban ventilation and cooling, urban drainage and flood risk, water resources, and outdoor spaces.


Environmental Impact Assessment, Urban Redevelopment Authority

This page provides a brief overview of the EIA process in Singapore and what potential impacts are taken into account.

International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA)

Climate Change in Impact Assessment: International Best Practice Principles, P. Byer et al, Special Publication Series No. 8 (2018)

These best practice principles propose strategies that practitioners can use to integrate climate change considerations into impact assessments. The protocols take into consideration climate change mitigation, adaptation, and equity as part of impact assessments.

Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM)

Guide to the Integration of Climate Change Adaptation into the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Process (2004)

Six step process:

  1. Define project and alternatives
  2. Conduct preliminary vulnerability assessment
  3. Conduct initial screening for climate change impacts and risks
  4. Scoping: identify key issues and information needs
  5. Assessment and evaluation
  6. Develop an environmental management plan
Engineers Canada, Public Infrastructure Engineering Vulnerability Committee (PIEVC)

The PIEVC Protocol for Assessing Public Infrastructure Vulnerability to Climate Change Impacts: National and International Application, D. Sandink and D. Lapp (2021)

This protocol developed by Engineers Canada and Natural Resources Canada covers climate change considerations in project assessment. Some steps of the protocol include data collection and analysis, risk assessment, engineering assessment, and reporting.

PIEVC Engineering Protocol for Infrastructure Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation to a Changing Climate, Canadian Council of Professional Engineers, Revision 10 (2011)

Very detailed protocol for assessing the vulnerability of new and existing infrastructure to the impacts of climate change.  Provides information on:

  • Data gathering and sufficiency (including a list of climate data resources, focused on Canada)
  • Risk assessments
  • Engineering analysis

Focused on technical rather than legal considerations.

European Spatial Planning (ESPACE)

Climate Change Impacts and Spatial Planning Decision Support Guidance (2008)

Concentrating on climate change adaptation, this guidance document presents a series of tools which can be used to assist planners in carrying out their own high level climate change risk assessment on development options.  The guidance contains several tools to help spatial planners consider potential climate change impacts when evaluating different planning options. These include:

  • Constraint mapping
  • Tipping points (or threshold analysis)
  • A high level risk assessment / screening tool
  • Decision pathways
Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment (IEMA)

Updated EIA Guidance on Assessing GHG Emissions (2022)

The IEMA created this guidance for GHG practitioners to aid in emissions assessment, mitigation, and reporting in both statutory and non-statutory EIA.

IEMA Environmental Impact Assessment Guide to Climate Change Resilience and Adaptation (2015)

This guide “provides a framework for the effective consideration of climate change resilience and adaptation in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process, in line with the 2014 European Union (EU) Directive.” As the Directive was not implemented until May 2017, this guide aided UK developers in planning for the future of assessing risks within the project design process.

Principles on Climate Change Adaptation & EIA (2010)

A framework for integrating climate change considerations into EIA through the application of 20 principles. These principles are prescriptive but not overly technical. For example:

Principle 11 (Significance) – Where the EIA identifies impacts likely to be generated as a consequence of predicted changes in the climate their significance should be evaluated based on a combination of:

  • Scenarios: an impact’s likelihood under a range of climate scenarios;
  • Vulnerability: a receptor’s vulnerability to existing climatic variations; and
  • Resilience: a receptor’s ability to absorb such disturbance and continue to function.

Where the EIA identifies that the likely consequences of climate change pose significant risk to a project’s ability to effectively function in the future, the assessment should aim to ensure the costs of not adapting are properly considered in the design process.

International Association for Impact Assessment

Climate Change in Impact Assessment: International Best Practice Principles, P. Byer et al, Special Publication Series No. 8 (2012)

These best practice principles are intended to help practitioners integrate climate change considerations into both project-level and strategy-level impact assessments.  The protocols deal with both mitigation and adaptation. The protocols deal with screening and scoping for climate impacts, refining project baselines, conducting vulnerability assessments, identifying adaptation objectives and measures to  implement those objectives, using the best available science, discussing uncertainty, and follow-up assessments / adaptive management.

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)

Incorporating Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation in Environmental Impact Assessments: Opportunities and Challenge (2010)

This report identifies key considerations for EIA of climate risks and adaptation options and outlines a rationale for assessing such risks in the EIA context. It does not, however, contain specific guidelines on how to conduct that assessment.

Strategic Environmental Assessment and Adaptation to Climate Change (2010)

This is one in a series of Advisory Notes that supplement the OECD DAC Review of Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Experiences in Development Co-operation (2010). The 2010 review provides a comprehensive overview of major SEA activities in developing countries and serves as a monitoring report of 2006 OECD DAC Guidance on Applying Strategic Environmental Assessment. This Advisory note supplements that analysis with additional recommendations on addressing climate change adaptation through SEA. It is intended to (i) illustrate how SEA may provide a framework for integrating considerations of climate change risks and opportunities into strategic planning, and to (ii) guide planners, policy makers and sector specialists working in the preparation of PPPs and those already familiar with SEA in the inclusion of climate change considerations into PPPs.

Strategic Environmental Assessment and Adaptation to Climate Change (2008)

An earlier version of the 2010 document, above.

The World Bank

Guidance Note 1: Assessment and Management of Environmental and Social Risks and Impacts, International Finance Corporation (IFC) (published 2012, updated 2021)

This guide developed by the Word Bank group IFC is a methodical approach to managing environmental and social risks that may be associated with a project. It includes guidance on mitigating and minimizing contributions to climate change.

Seaport Climate Change Impact Assessment Using a Multi-Level Methodology (2020)

This guidance document focuses on environmental risks to seaports, which are especially vulnerable to climate change, and adaptation strategies to mitigate these risks.

World Bank Climate and Disaster Risk Screening Tools, The World Bank Group (2020) 

This resource provides various climate and disaster risk screening and GHG accounting tools that can be utilized to assess the short and long-term risks posed by climate change and other natural hazards on potential projects, development policy, and national or sector-wide strategies. The tools provide both rapid and in-depth screening assessments.


Model Proposal: Climate Change Assessment (CCA) Safeguard Policy (2014)

This document details policies that the World Bank applies to its own projects. These policies include ensuring climate change risk assessments at multiple levels of each project, requiring regular use of impact assessment, and implementing climate change action plans.

International Finance Corporation (IFC)

Enabling Environment for Private Sector Adaptation: An Index Assessment Framework (2013)

This publication provides “implementable interventions” for private investment in climate change adaptation and for the promotion of climate resilient development strategies.

United Nations (UN)

National Adaptation Plans from developing countries, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) (2020) 

This webpage compiles the most recent National Adaptation Plans to Climate Change for 20 developing countries. The plans are available in a variety of languages and include information regarding climate change risk assessment of urban and energy-sector infrastructure, system vulnerabilities, and long-term project outcomes. 

Assessing Environmental Impacts - A Global Review of Legislation, United Nations Environment (2018)

This UN review provides an overview of EIA and SEAs legislation around the world. The review lays out examples of how different countries conduct EIA/SEA screening, scoping and impact analysis, review of the EIA/SEA report, decision-making, follow-up and adaptive management, and public participation.