The 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.
- Impact assessment on the White Paper on adapting to climate change (April 2009)
- Executive summary of the impact assessment (April 2009)
- Citizens’ summary on the White Paper (April 2009)
- Discussion paper on agriculture (April 2009)
- Discussion paper on health (April 2009)
- Policy paper on Water, Coasts and Marine issues (April 2009)
- Press release on adapting to climate change (April 2009)
- Questions and answers on adaptation to climate change (April 2009)