The recent Green Paper published by the European Commission sets out options for EU action to help the process of adaptation to climate change across Europe. Adaptation means taking action to cope with changing climatic conditions, for example by using scarce water resources more efficiently or ensuring the frail and elderly are properly cared for during heatwaves. The Green Paper aims to stimulate a broad public debate on adaptation in Europe, starting with a major stakeholder conference hosted by the Commission on 3 July in Brussels.
The European Union’s objective is to limit global warming to no more than 2°C above the pre-industrial level, since beyond that threshold the risks of irreversible and possibly catastrophic planetary changes greatly increase. Yet many parts of the world are already struggling with the adverse effects of a 0.76°C rise in the global average temperature, and on current trends the global temperature is likely to increase further by 1.8° to 4°C this century.
The Green Paper sets out four lines of priority actions to be considered:
- Early action to develop adaptation strategies in areas where current knowledge is sufficient;
- Integrating global adaptation needs into the EU’s external relations and building a new alliance with partners around the world;
- Filling knowledge gaps on adaptation through EU-level research and exchange of information;
- Setting up a European advisory group on adaptation to climate change to analyse coordinated strategies and actions.
All actors will need to be actively involved in adaptation to climate change and efficient coordination between measures in member states, regions and communities will be vital to keep the cost low. The European Union can play an important role in supporting adaptation efforts by adjusting relevant policies, filling knowledge gaps and coordinating strategies.