The EEA has just published the European Climate Risk Assessment (EUCRA), a major report that should help Europe address increasing risks from climate change. We interviewed our colleagues Julie Berckmans, Marianne Dons Tychsen and Hans-Martin Füssel who have worked closely on the report for the past two years.

Marianne Dons Tychsen
Marianne Dons Tychsen
Expert - Communication for European Climate Risk Assessment

What is the EUCRA report?

Marianne: EUCRA is the first ever Europe-wide assessment of climate change risks affecting the continent. The report largely builds on existing scientific knowledge, including assessment reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), as well as relevant knowledge from the Joint Research Centre and the Copernicus Climate Change Service.

What is new and unique about the report?

Julie: Compared with other reports, EUCRA presents several new features, such as a systematic assessment of a large number of climate risks for Europe, supported by an independent risk review panel, and a stronger focus on compounding, cascading, cross-sectoral and cross-border risks, and non-climatic risk drivers.

It also explicitly considers distributional justice related to climate change impacts and adaptation. For each of the 36 major climate risks assessed in EUCRA, we have also aimed to identify risk ownership and urgency for action. And we have consulted a wide range of stakeholders throughout the assessment process, including a dedicated Commission Working Group where more than 20 Directorate-Generals were represented.

Julie Berckmans
Julie Berckmans
Expert - European Climate Risk Assessment

What has been your role in the project?

Julie: My journey at the EEA started in August 2022, a few months after the start of the EUCRA project. I was part of the core team to coordinate the project. It is hard to find the right words to describe the complexity of the coordination of this project, with about a hundred authors involved, partly from the ETC on Climate Change Adaptation and LULUCF and partly from European Commission Joint Research Centre and other organisations, and the many stakeholder interactions.

 Hans-Martin Füssel
Hans-Martin Füssel
Expert - Climate Change Adaptation

Hans-Martin: I have been involved in EUCRA from the first contacts with the European Commission in early 2022. The original idea for EUCRA was an academic book written by technical experts. From the beginning, I suggested an approach with a much stronger stakeholder involvement to make the report relevant and useful for policymakers.

Since then, I have been going through the joy as well as the pain of completing the project. However, the extensive uptake in the media and by political stakeholders at the highest level following the launch of the report is evidence to the fact that our efforts were worth it.

Marianne: I am also really happy to have been part of the EUCRA core team almost from the very beginning. My role has been to plan the communication aspects of EUCRA, which has involved coordination with our external partners as well as working with EEA colleagues who have been responsible for different aspects of the overall communication and also the production of the report. In this context, we also appreciate the great collaboration we have had with our EEA team in Brussels.

What else has been involved in communication planning of EUCRA?

Marianne: One of the most important aspects has been the contact with our stakeholders — both those involved in the assessment and those we hope will use the report. Another area we have put a lot of focus on is writing and visuals, and our colleagues have done excellent work in making the content very engaging and clear.

Closer to the publication day the focus of course shifted to the external outreach and making sure the report is well received by the media and other, broader audiences. Overall, it has been exciting work and it is nice to see now how much attention the report is now getting.

How has the report been received?

Hans-Martin: EUCRA has already served to remind decision makers at various levels that proactive adaptation to climate change is not something for far-away regions only, but it is also a necessity in Europe. Endless new temperature records and disastrous extreme weather events in Europe in recent years have prepared the ground for receiving this message. The high media interest in many countries has also brought the topic of climate risks and adaptation to European citizens who will soon vote a new European Parliament.

We have already received many invitations for presenting EUCRA results, from Ministerial Summits to Council Working Groups and from Central Banks to national environment agencies and risk assessment centres. This will allow us to present further relevant knowledge beyond EUCRA, including from other EEA reports, Climate-ADAPT and the European Climate and Health Observatory.

What do you hope will be the outcome of this work?

Julie: Ultimately, I hope that both the EUCRA report itself and the process that led to it will help making Europe more resilient against the risks from climate change as well as in the context of other environmental and social policy goals.

Hans-Martin: I also hope that the outcomes of EUCRA can strengthen the adaptation agenda of the new Commission, and that they are useful for setting priorities, both in terms of sectors, systems at risk and in terms of geographical areas. A first step was already made when the Commission adopted a Communication on climate risks and resilience, and the European Parliament held a plenary debate on EUCRA, both just one day after the EUCRA publication.

What other work will the EEA do on this topic in the near future?

Hans-Martin: The EEA will publish further major products on climate change adaptation next month, including on adaptation in cities and on climate change and health, with a focus on water. Of course, we are also reflecting about a possible second edition of EUCRA. However, in the coming weeks and months, we will focus on spreading the findings of the EUCRA report to a wide range of interested stakeholders.

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