The European Commission has adopted a new EU strategy for adaptation to climate change which defines the way forward to be ready for its inevitable effects. While the EU is doing everything it can to mitigate climate change, inside and outside its borders, we must also prepare ourselves to face its inevitable consequences. From deadly heat waves and devastating droughts, to decimated forests and coasts eroded by rising sea levels, climate change is already having serious repercussions in Europe and around the world. Building on the 2013 climate change adaptation strategy, the goal of today’s proposals is to shift the focus from understanding the problem to defining solutions and moving from planning to implementation.
Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice President responsible for the European Green Deal, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has been a stern reminder that insufficient preparation can have disastrous consequences. There is no vaccine against the climate crisis, but we can still fight it and prepare for its inevitable effects – which are already being felt both inside and outside the European Union. The new climate change adaptation strategy allows us to accelerate and deepen preparations. If we prepare today, we can still build a climate resilient tomorrow. “
Economic losses due to the greater frequency of extreme weather events are increasing and those counted in the EU already alone exceed an average of € 12 billion per year. Conservative estimates show that exposing today’s EU economy to global warming of 3 ° C compared to pre-industrial levels would result in an annual loss of at least 170 billion euros. Climate change affects not only the economy, but also the health and well-being of European citizens, who are increasingly suffering from heat waves: globally, the deadliest natural disaster of 2019 was the heat wave which hit Europe causing 2,500 victims.
Action on adaptation to climate change must involve all components of society and all levels of governance, inside and outside the EU. We will work to build a resilient society to climate change by improving knowledge of their effects and adaptation solutions; intensifying adaptation planning and climate risk assessment; accelerating adaptation action and helping to strengthen resilience to climate change worldwide.
Smarter, faster and more systemic adaptation
Adaptation actions must be based on reliable data and risk assessment tools available to all – from households buying, building and renovating homes to businesses in coastal regions or farmers planning their own crops. To this end, the strategy proposes interventions that advance the frontiers of knowledge on adaptation so as to improve the quality and quantity of data collected on climate-related risks and losses, and make them available to all. Climate-ADAPT, the European platform for knowledge on adaptation, will be strengthened and expanded and will be supported by a health observatory designed to better monitor, analyze and prevent the effects of climate change on health.
Since climate change has repercussions at all levels of society and in all sectors of the economy, adaptation actions must be systemic. The Commission will continue to integrate climate change resilience considerations into all relevant policy areas and will support the further development and implementation of adaptation strategies and plans, with three cross-cutting priorities: integrating adaptation into macro-financial policy, solutions for nature-based adaptation and local adaptation actions.
Intensify international action
Climate change adaptation policies must go hand in hand with our world leadership in climate change mitigation. The Paris Agreement set a global goal on adaptation and stressed that adaptation is a key factor for sustainable development. The EU will promote subnational, national and regional approaches to adaptation, with a particular focus on adaptation in Africa and small island developing states. At the international level, we will increase support for resilience and climate change preparedness by providing resources, prioritizing action and increasing effectiveness, increasing international funding and strengthening global engagement and exchanges on adaptation.