The European Commission has warned the COVID Pandemic has highlighted how lack of preparation has blighted thew ability to combated and urged the world not to make the same mistake with climate change.
The commission has adopted a new EU Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change, setting out the pathway to prepare for the “unavoidable impacts of climate change”.
It warned that “while the EU does everything within its power to mitigate climate change, domestically and internationally, we must also get ready to face its unavoidable consequences”.
It added that climate change is already impacting the planet in the shape of deadly heatwaves and devastating droughts, to decimated forests and coastlines eroded by rising sea levels.
Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans (pic) warned governments had to take action and prepare for the challenges ahead for the world’s climate.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been a stark reminder that insufficient preparation can have dire consequences,” he explained. “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.”
The EC said the new strategy built upon the 2013 Climate Change Adaptation Strategy, with the aim to shift the focus from understanding the problem to developing solutions, and to move from planning to implementation.
It added economic losses from more frequent climate-related extreme weather are increasing. In the EU, these losses alone already average over €12 billion per year. 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.
“Climate change affects not only the economy, but also the health and well-being of Europeans, who increasingly suffer from heat waves; the deadliest natural disaster of 2019 worldwide was the European heatwave, with 2500 deaths,” it added.
The EC said its action on climate change adaptation must involve all parts of society and all levels of governance, inside and outside the EU.
“We will 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,” it added.
“Our climate change adaptation policies must match our global leadership in climate change mitigation. The Paris Agreement established a global goal on adaptation and highlighted adaptation as a key contributor to sustainable development.
“The EU will promote sub-national, national and regional approaches to adaptation, with a specific focus on adaptation in Africa and Small Island Developing States. We will increase support for international climate resilience and preparedness through the provision of resources, by prioritizing action and increasing effectiveness, through the scaling up of international finance and through stronger global engagement and exchanges on adaptation. We will also work with international partners to close the gap in international climate finance.”
The commission said governments had to recognise climate change is happening today, therefore the world had to build a more resilient tomorrow.
“The world has just concluded the hottest decade on record during which the title for the hottest year was beaten eight times,” said the Commission. “The frequency and severity of climate and weather extremes is increasing. These extremes range from unprecedented forest fires and heatwaves right above the Arctic Circle to devastating droughts in the Mediterranean region, and from hurricanes ravaging EU outermost regions to forests decimated by unprecedented bark beetle outbreaks in Central and Eastern Europe.
“Slow onset events, such as desertification, loss of biodiversity, land and ecosystem degradation, ocean acidification or sea level rise are equally destructive over the long term.”