Why adapting to climate change matters
In our daily lives, resilience and adaptation help us overcome major challenges and turn problems into effective solutions. Similarly, adaptation to climate change is about adjusting to a warmer world, in order to protect people, nature, our prosperity and way of life.
The climate emergency and biodiversity crises in Europe and around the world is a call to all of us to join forces and act in new and innovative ways. Adaptation to climate change requires to understand, plan and act in a way that not only reduces the negative impacts of climate change but also creates new opportunities to become safer and more resilient.
Climate change is one of the biggest threats currently facing humanity. The Earth has already warmed by 1.1°C since the late 19th century. This is already affecting every region of the world, causing more frequent and intense extreme events such as heatwaves or droughts, changing rainfall patterns, melting ice and affecting habitats. Some consequences of climate, such as sea-level rise, will continue to unravel for centuries to millennia.
Every bit of warming matters and climate action has never been as urgently needed as today. Limiting global warming requires immediate and deep cuts in the emissions of greenhouse gases (a mitigation strategy).
However, mitigating climate change will not be enough. In addition, we will have to adapt to the unavoidable impacts.
Without action today, adaptation will be costlier and more difficult for the next generations.
Responding to these challenges will require better knowledge and scientific breakthroughs in various domains ranging from technologies, solutions and services for adaptation in areas such as:
- drought-resilient crops
- water saving technologies
- satellites for environmental observation
- rapid progress in adaptation science and climate analytics as a basis for state-of-the-art climate information
- scaling up of digital tools to take our adaptive capacities to the next level
This will need to go hand in hand with societal transformation and large-scale behavioral change promoting climate-friendly lifestyles.
What is the EU doing?
The European Climate Law underlines the importance of stepping up adaptation efforts, including through more decisive action on climate proofing, resilience building, disaster risk prevention and preparedness.
Additionally, the Commission published in February 2021 a new, more ambitious EU Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change that sets out its vision on how Europe can become ready to face climate disruptions by 2050. The strategy is based on 4 key principles: smarter, faster and more systemic adaptation, together with an enhanced international action on adaptation.
The strategy will step up Europe’s preparedness for current and future climate events in an attempt to avoid detrimental and potentially catastrophic impacts to our economy, environment and society.
Mission on adaptation to climate change
To deliver on the Adaptation Strategy, the EU has also launched in 2021 the EU mission on adaptation to climate change. The goal of the mission is to support at least 150 regions and local authorities to become climate resilient by 2030. It will achieve this by testing and up-scaling innovative solutions, creating the right conditions for transforming our societies, and providing demonstrations of deep climate-resilience.
- prepare Europe to deal with climate disruptions, and help all citizens, communities and regions to better understand, prepare for and manage climate risks such as heatwaves, forest fires, droughts, floods, storms and diseases
- accelerate the transition to the future we want, supporting European communities and regions in co-creating a vision and innovation pathways. Develop solutions and enabling conditions for transformative adaptation within safe planetary boundaries
- build deep resilience by scaling up actionable solutions that bring about transformations in society by demonstrating deep resilience across a number of European communities and regions
More details in the report: A climate resilient Europe
Even stopping all greenhouse gas emissions would not stop the climate impacts that are already occurring, and which are likely to continue for decades.
Even in a best-case scenario of sustained emissions’ reduction, there will still be large stresses on multiple economic and natural systems.
Adaptation will be necessary in agriculture, biodiversity, coastal areas, disaster risk reduction, energy, finance, forestry, health, infrastructure, marine and fisheries, transport, urban, water management and many others.
Managing these in a holistic way will require better models for climate change impacts, sustained efforts for technological and socio-economic innovations and mobilisation of finance.
- Conferences and summits
Online Event: The urgency to step up climate adaptation action
- 1 June 2021
- Online only
- Live streaming available
- Conferences and summits
Workshop on adaptation measures for Climate Change and Health in Europe
- 24 September 2019
- Brussels, Belgium
- Live streaming available