At an event yesterday in Brussels, the European Commission adopted a new and more ambitious EU Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change, which sets out a path to prepare for the unavoidable impacts societal and economic impact of the changing climate.
That might sound a bit fatalist, but it's actually just realism. Though the EU says it will "do everything within its power to mitigate climate change, domestically and internationally", the reality is that we know what is coming and it would be good to be prepared to face the consequences. Heatwaves, droughts, coastal erosion, and flooding are already here, in Europe and worldwide, and it is just the beginning.
The new document builds on the 2013 Climate Change Adaptation Strategy, but moves the focus form understanding the problem to building and planning to implement solutions.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been a stark reminder that insufficient preparation can have dire consequences. There is no vaccine against the climate crisis, but we can still fight it and prepare for its unavoidable effects. 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.”Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President - European Green Deal
The cost of climate-related extreme weather is increasing. The cost to the health and well-being of Europeans is huge, and there is also a big financial cost. It's already over €12 billion per year but even 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 €170 billion.
The EU says that action on climate change adaptation must involve all parts of society and all levels of governance, inside and outside the EU. They want to "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."
We aren't going to summarise the whole 22 page document here. If you want to take a look then you can download it as a PDF directly from the EU: Strategy on Adapatation to Climate Change.
You can also find more information about what they are doing to prepare for the impact at the adaptation to Climate Change website.