Long-term ‘transformation needed’ to create resilient societies says EEA

Faced with the economic impact of climate change, businesses face uncertain and unstable revenues and potential financial losses over the lifetime of their investments, according to a new report.

Published today, the European Environment Agency’s (EEA), Adaptation in Europe report, explains that adapting physical infrastructure to cope with the challenge of climate change is not simply a question of physical and ecological engineering.

It says that it will also require the adaptation of the financial infrastructure and investment decision-making to foster the investment needed to make societies more resilient.

The report also describes the policies and some of the measures taken at EU level and by European countries. So far half of the 32 EEA member countries have plans for adaptation, and some have started to take action, although “all countries still have a lot of work to do”.

While global mitigation efforts should continue to aim to limit global temperature increases to 2°C, the report states that it is necessary to prepare for a greater range of temperature increases and other climate changes. This is needed to properly account for the many uncertainties in climatic and socio-economic projections.

An earlier EEA report has shown that climate change is already affecting all regions in Europe, causing a wide range of impacts on society and the environment.

Further impacts are expected in the future if no action is taken and observations show higher average temperatures across Europe, while precipitation is decreasing in southern regions and increasing in northern Europe.

EEA executive director, Jacqueline McGlade, said: “Adaptation is about new ways of thinking and dealing with risks and hazards, uncertainty and complexity. It will require Europeans to cooperate, to learn from each other and to invest in the long-term transformations needed to sustain our well-being in the face of climate change.”

The report recommends a combination of different measures – ‘grey’ measures such as technological and engineering projects, ‘green’ ecosystem-based approaches using nature, and so-called ‘soft’ measures such as policies to change governance approaches. The most effective adaptation projects often combine two or more different approaches, the report says.

Leigh Stringer

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