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Deciding on Europe’s direction

Citizens across Europe are about to elect the new European Parliament and set the course for EU policies over the next five years. We asked Leena Ylä-Mononen, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency’s (EEA) about the significance of these elections and environment and climate challenges ahead.

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Living in a state of multiple crises: health, nature, climate, economy, or simply systemic unsustainability?

From policy corridors to academic platforms, the world has been talking about global crises: a health crisis, an economic and financial crisis, a climate crisis and a nature crisis. Ultimately, they are all symptoms of the same problem: our unsustainable production and consumption. The COVID-19 shock has only revealed the systemic frailty of our global economy and society with all their inequalities.

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How are Europe’s cities adapting to climate change and moving to a sustainable future?

Adapting to the impacts of climate change is a top priority in the European Union. What is driving cities to implement important measures to mitigate these impacts and make urban centres more resilient and sustainable? We sat down with Ivone Pereira Martins, EEA expert in urban sustainability on what the Agency is doing to help this vital work.

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Shaping the Europe of 2050: healthier, cleaner and more resilient

A year into living with COVID-19 and its impacts, Europe continues to put forth policy packages towards its ambitious goals outlined in the European Green Deal. It is essential that Europe stays on course towards its targets and ensures that the Europe of 2050 is a resilient society built on solidarity, providing a healthy environment for all of us.

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EEA-Eionet Strategy 2021-2030: delivering data and knowledge to achieve Europe’s climate and environment ambitions

Our joint Strategy indicates our direction of travel. It introduces a new way of working together and creating knowledge — more agile, more responsive, more pro-active, more actionable — befitting the challenges we will face and the knowledge we will need in the decade to come.

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Reflecting on climate-neutrality ambitions in Europe in times of Covid-19

European countries are taking drastic measures to limit the impacts of Covid-19 on Europeans’ health and the economy. Such crises tend to have immediate and severe impacts on entire populations and the economy. Considering its potential to affect key economic sectors, the coronavirus crisis is expected to reduce some of the impacts of economic activities on the environment and climate. Yet, major and abrupt shocks with an extremely high cost to society are not at all how the European Union has committed to transform its economy and achieve climate neutrality by 2050. The European Green Deal and the recently proposed European Climate Law call instead for irreversible and gradual reductions in emissions, while ensuring a just transition, supporting those affected.

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Climate change adaptation is key to future of farming in Europe

This past summer’s heatwaves and extreme weather events have broken new climate records in Europe once again reinforcing the importance of climate change adaptation. We sat down with Blaz Kurnik, a European Environment Agency (EEA) expert on climate change impacts and adaptation to discuss the EEA’s new report on how climate change is impacting agriculture in Europe which came out earlier this month.

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How do environmental hazards affect vulnerable groups in Europe?

Targeted action is needed to better protect Europe’s most vulnerable populations, including the poor, the elderly and children, from environmental hazards like air and noise pollution and extreme temperatures. Aleksandra Kazmierczak, a European Environment Agency (EEA) climate change adaptation expert, explains the main findings of a new EEA report that assesses the links between social and demographic inequalities and exposure to air pollution, noise and extreme temperatures.

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Understanding and acting on the complexity of climate change

Climate change is one of the most important challenges of our time. Its impacts are felt across the globe, affecting people, nature and the economy. To mitigate climate change, we need to reduce global emissions of greenhouse gases significantly. Translating this overall objective into concrete measures requires understanding a complex system linking emissions from different sources to national and regional impacts, global governance and potential co-benefits. The European Environment Agency strives to continuously improve the knowledge needed for designing effective measures on the ground.

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Climate change and water — Warmer oceans, flooding and droughts

Climate change is increasing the pressure on water bodies. From floods and droughts to ocean acidification and rising sea levels, the impacts of climate change on water are expected to intensify in the years ahead. These changes are prompting action across Europe. Cities and regions are already adapting, using more sustainable, nature-based solutions to lessen the impact of floods and using water in smarter, more sustainable ways to enable us to live with droughts.

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Environmental change: knowledge is key to mitigating impacts on people and nature

Environmental policy making is not an easy task. On the one hand, Europeans want to enjoy the benefits a well-functioning economy provides. On the other, there are significant environmental and health costs attached to our lifestyle choices. A systemic understanding of how nature, economy and human health are connected is essential for identifying the best policy options available. The European Environment Agency aims to support policy making by providing exactly this kind of knowledge.

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Climate change in Europe: Responding to disasters and preparing for an uncertain future

Floods, strong winds, heatwaves, droughts… Climate change and climate-change related extreme weather events are a cause of a growing concern not only in Europe but everywhere in the world. Many communities are affected by such extreme events and have to take measures to prevent and minimise the harm. How can communities adapt to a changing climate and prepare for and respond to climate-related disasters? We interviewed Sergio Castellari, EEA expert on climate change impacts, vulnerability and adaptation.

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Effective policies are based on a robust knowledge base and solid science

At all governance levels, public policy making entails making decisions between different options and approaches. Some decisions, such as to invest in fossil fuels or renewables, might involve selecting one option over the other. Others might address the ‘how’ question – we will invest in renewables but which ones are the best for the society? Each policy decision results in outcomes, some of which might be unforeseen, unexpected or even detrimental to those whose lives it is supposed to improve. In the long term, the overall harm can be much larger than gains in the short term. To achieve the positive and lasting results on the ground, policy makers need to be able to make informed decisions, after assessing the benefits and costs of each available option.

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Climate finance: resources for low-carbon, climate-resilient Europe

Our climate is changing. We must reduce greenhouse gas emissions to limit the rate of climate change, and at the same time, take measures that help us prepare for current and future impacts. Both of these strands of action require unprecedented redirection of investments. This was acknowledged by the climate conferences in Paris and recently in Marrakesh. The finance sector can and will play an instrumental role in supporting Europe’s transition towards a low- carbon, climate-resilient society.

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Sustainable management is the key to healthy forests in Europe

Forests in Europe provide us essential services: clean air, clean water, natural carbon storage, timber, food and other products. They are home to many species and habitats. We talked about the challenges Europe’s forests face with Annemarie Bastrup-Birk, forest and environment expert at the European Environment Agency.

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Green infrastructure: better living through nature-based solutions

Green infrastructure offers attractive solutions to environmental, social and economic issues, and as such needs to be fully integrated across different policy domains. As the EEA prepares to publish a report on the role of green infrastructure in mitigating the impacts of weather and climate change related natural hazards, we spoke to its lead author, Gorm Dige, project manager for territorial environment, policy and economic analysis.

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Climate change: investing in low-carbon solutions and adaptation

Our climate is changing. We need to adapt to current and expected changes, while maximising our efforts to quickly and sharply reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. And 2015 can be a turning point for global climate policies. Europe and the world must seize the opportunity and allocate sufficient funds to end the carbon dependency of the global economy.

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Preparing Europe’s cities for climate change impacts

Climate change is impacting and will continue to impact Europe. Are cities ready to face rising sea levels and temperatures and more extreme events like floods, droughts or heat waves? We asked this question to Birgit Georgi, working on regional vulnerability and climate change adaptation at the European Environment Agency.

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The melting Arctic

The melting Arctic

21 Dec 2012

The extent of the sea ice in the Arctic reached a new record low in September 2012. Climate change is melting the sea ice in the region at a rate much faster than estimated by earlier projections. The snow cover also shows a downward trend. The melting Arctic might impact not only the people living in the region, but also elsewhere in Europe and beyond.

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Turning the urban challenge into an opportunity

Copenhagen, 2 July 2011. Up to 150 mm of rainfall in two hours – a city record since measurements began in the mid-1800s. Homes destroyed. Citizens and emergency services struggled to cope. This is one example of how excessive extreme weather events can affect a European capital – events that are expected more often under climate change.

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