Vulnerabilities differ across regions, sectors and communities, with pronounced consequences expected in the Mediterranean basin, north-western and central-eastern Europe and the Arctic. Many coastal zones, mountains and areas prone to river floods are particularly vulnerable, as are cities and urban areas. In some sectors and regions new opportunities may occur. However, with increases in both temperatures and the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, adverse effects are likely to dominate in the medium to long term.
The costs of adaptation in Europe could amount to billions of Euro per year in the medium and long term. Although the economics of adaptation options so far relies on limited information and a few modelling tools, assessments suggest that timely and proportionate adaptation makes economic, social and environmental sense, and is likely to be far less costly than inaction.
Observed and projected climate change have far-reaching impacts in Europe including an increase in temperature, sea-level rise, changes in precipitation patterns and water availability, and more frequent and intense extreme weather events such as floods and droughts, and forest fires. Climate change exacerbates the impacts of other key drivers of global environmental change.
So far 11 European countries, and a few regions and cities, have adopted adaptation strategies. Mainstreaming adaptation in EU policies, strengthening the knowledge base and facilitating information sharing are key levers for building resilience. The Adaptation White Paper of the European Commission constitutes a significant step in the development of an EU strategy.
A temperature rise of 2 °C or more above pre-industrial levels is likely to cause major societal, economic and environmental disruption, making it challenging for human and natural systems to adapt at affordable costs. Climate change will affect the vulnerability of European society to an array of threats to human health, almost all economic sectors, ecosystem goods and services and biodiversity.
Adaptation strategies can reduce vulnerabilities and strengthen resilience. An increasing number of options have been identified, including no-regret measures that are relevant under all plausible future scenarios. In addition to technological solutions, adaptation can support resilience through ecosystem-based options, green infrastructure and adequate governance. Regional and sectoral differences in climate change vulnerabilities and socio-economic conditions make adaptation a context- and location-specific challenge.
Bislang haben elf europäische Länder sowie einige Regionen und Städte, Strategien zur Anpassung an den Klimawandel entwickelt. Die Etablierung der Anpassung in EU-Strategien, die Stärkung der Wissensbasis und die Erleichterung des Informationsaustauschs sind wichtige Hebel zur Stärkung der Widerstandsfähigkeit. Das "Anpassungs-Weißbuch" der Europäischen Kommission stellt einen wichtigen Schritt in der Entwicklung einer EU-Strategie dar.
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe’s environment.
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