Despite the emissions reduction targets that the EU is committed to achieve, some consequences of climate change are inevitable and could be even more substantial and swifter than expected. Finding a comprehensive strategy for adaptation to climate change is therefore needed in addition to mitigation measures, which is the key objective of the White Paper issued by the Commission on 1 April 2009.
The document outlines concrete actions for strengthening the Union’s capacity to adapt to the effects of climate change in a time framework split in two phases. The first phase (covering the period 2009-2013) will seek, among others, to increase knowledge on climate change impact and to integrate adaptation to key EU policies (such as agriculture, health, maritime and fishery affairs). This phase should lay the groundwork for the second phase: a comprehensive EU adaptation strategy to be implemented from 2013 and beyond.
The consequences of climate change will vary from one region to another. Therefore the Commission proposes most adaptation measures to be carried out at national or regional level, while the EU would support these efforts through an integrated and coordinated approach, particularly in cross-border issues and common EU policies.
In order to develop knowledge on climate change impact, the Commission suggests establishing an IT tool: a Clearing House Mechanism by 2011. The later would contribute to the Shared Environmental Information System (an initiative by the European Commission and the European Environment Agency seeking to establish an integrated and shared EU-wide environmental information system). The Commission states also that the Clearing House Mechanism will rely on geographical information provided by GMES.
With regard to upcoming actions, the Commission will set up by 1 September 2009 an Impact and Adaptation Steering Group (IASG) consisting of representatives from Member States involved in the drawing up of national and regional adaptation programmes. The group will consult with representatives from civil society and the scientific community.