Friday, April 03, 2009

Living with climate change in Europe

Living with climate change in Europe

Precipitation: change in annual amountThe earth's climate is changing and the impacts are already being felt in Europe and across the world.

Global temperatures are predicted to continue rising, bringing changes in weather patterns, rising sea levels and increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as storms, floods, droughts and heat waves. Such climatic events can have a major impact on households, businesses, critical infrastructure (transport, energy and water supply) and vulnerable sections of society (elderly, disabled, poor income households) as well as having a major economic impact. We must therefore prepare to cope with living in a changing climate. This process is known as adaptation.

In April 2009 the European Commission presented a policy paper known as a White Paper which presents the framework for adaptation measures and policies to reduce the European Union's vulnerability to the impacts of climate change.

Decisions on how best to adapt to climate change must be based on solid scientific and economic analysis. It is therefore important to increase the understanding of climate change and the impacts it will have. The White Paper outlines the need to create a Clearing House Mechanism by 2011 where information on climate change risks, impacts and best practices would be exchanged between governments, agencies, and organisations working on adaptation policies.

Since the impacts of climate change will vary by region - with coastal and mountain areas and flood plains particularly vulnerable – many of the adaptation measures will need to be carried out nationally or regionally. The role of the European Union will be to support and complement these efforts through an integrated and coordinated approach, particularly in cross-border issues and policies which are highly integrated at EU level.

Adapting to climate change will be integrated into all EU policies and will feature prominently in the Union's external policies to assist those countries most affected.

Documents and links

A number of EU Member States have adopted National Adaptation Strategies:

The building of a framework to adapt to climate change

In June 2007, the European Commission presented a discussion paper known as a Green Paper on adapting to the impacts of climate change. The paper  builds upon the work and findings of the European Climate Change Programme.

The paper argues that next to deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions we also need to adapt to the changing climate conditions. It describes possible avenues for action at EU level.

The Green Paper was also the subject of opinions and resolutions by the Committee of the Regions, the European Economic and Social Committee and the European Parliament:

Over the last few years the EU has financed several large research projects on regional climate modelling and impact assessment. Some projects have produced high-resolution maps representing the projected changes in climate variables, such as mean temperature and precipitation, and projected impacts, e.g. agricultural yields, conditions for tourism, cold- and heat-related mortality and biodiversity losses.

These maps illustrate what can be expected in Europe by the end of the century, according to the IPCC scenario (SRES A2) whereby no action is taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, so that the global mean temperature increases by about 3.4°C by the 2080s compared to 1990 levels. Under this scenario, nearly all European regions are expected to be negatively affected and up to half of Europe's plant species could be vulnerable or threatened by 2080.

Summary of Peseta Study (pdf ~19KB)
Link to Peseta Website

  • Flooded areas for three sea levels in the absence of dykes: Animation on sea level rise (swf - Marbaix, P. and J.P van Ypersele (ed.), 2004).

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Rodrigo González Fernández
Diplomado en RSE de la ONU
oficina: Renato Sánchez 3586 of. 10
Teléfono: OF .02-  8854223- CEL: 76850061
e-mail: rogofe47@mi.cl
Santiago- Chile
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