The European Commission adopted on February 24, 2021 a new EU Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change, setting out the pathway to prepare for the unavoidable impacts of climate change. The EU does everything within its power to mitigate climate change, domestically and internationally, to get ready to face unavoidable consequences.
Building on the 2013 the Adaptation to Climate Change strategy, the aim of the proposals is to shift the focus from understanding the problem to developing solutions, and to move from planning to implementation.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been a stark reminder that insufficient preparation can have dire consequences. The impacts of climate change are already felt both inside and outside the European Union. The new climate adaptation strategy equips us to speed up and deepen preparations. If we get ready today, we can still build a climate-resilient tomorrow,” Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans said.
The economic losses from more frequent climate-related extreme weather are increasing. In the EU, these losses alone already average over EUR 12 billion per year. Conservative estimates show that exposing today’s EU economy to global warming of 3°C above pre-industrial levels would result in an annual loss of at least EUR 170 billion. Climate change affects not only the economy, but also the health and well-being of Europeans, who increasingly suffer from heat waves. The deadliest natural disaster of 2019 worldwide was the European heatwave, with 2500 deaths.
The EC will work to build a climate resilient society by improving knowledge of climate impacts and adaptation solutions, by stepping up adaptation planning and climate risk assessments, by accelerating adaptation action and by helping to strengthen climate resilience globally.
Adaptation actions must be informed by robust data and risk assessment tools that are available to all. Thus, the strategy proposes actions that push the frontiers of knowledge on adaptation to gather more and better data on climate-related risks and losses, making them available to all. Climate-ADAPT, the European platform for adaptation knowledge, will be enhanced and expanded, and a dedicated health observatory will be added to better track, analyse and prevent health impacts of climate change.
Climate change has impacts at all levels of society and across all sectors of the economy, so adaptation actions must be systemic. The Commission will continue to incorporate climate resilience considerations in all relevant policy fields. It will support the further development and implementation of adaptation strategies and plans with three cross cutting priorities: integrating adaptation into macro-fiscal policy, nature-based solutions for adaptation, and local adaptation action.
The climate change adaptation policies must match he EU’s global leadership in climate change mitigation. The Paris Agreement established a global goal on adaptation and highlighted adaptation as a key contributor to sustainable development. The EU will promote sub-national, national and regional approaches to adaptation, with a specific focus on adaptation in Africa and Small Island Developing States. It will increase the support for international climate resilience and preparedness through the provision of resources, by prioritizing action and increasing effectiveness, through the scaling up of international finance and through stronger global engagement and exchanges on adaptation. The EU will also work with international partners to close the gap in international climate finance.