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Cooling buildings sustainably in Europe: exploring the links between climate change mitigation and adaptation, and their social impacts

Across Europe, rising temperatures, combined with an ageing population and urbanisation, mean that the population is becoming more vulnerable to heat and that demand for cooling in buildings is rising rapidly. Buildings, as long-lasting structures, can offer protection from heatwaves and high temperatures if appropriately designed, constructed, renovated and maintained. The summer of 2022, with its successive long heatwaves and high energy prices, may have raised the sense of urgency given to the alleviation of heat stress. But there is a gap in knowledge on the extent of overheating in buildings and data and information is scarce regarding the share of EU citizens unable to keep their homes comfortably cool during the summer. This briefing examines key elements of sustainable cooling policy, and its potential impacts on vulnerable groups, by reducing health risks, inequalities and summer energy poverty.

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Climate change as a threat to health and well-being in Europe: focus on heat and infectious diseases

This report draws on knowledge developed for the European Climate and Health Observatory. It focuses on the impact high temperatures are having on the population, as well as another emerging threat: the spread of climate-sensitive infectious diseases.

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Economic losses and fatalities from weather and climate-related events in Europe

The EU adaptation strategy aims to build resilience and ensure that Europe is well prepared to manage the risks and adapt to the impacts of climate change, including limiting economic losses and other harms. Europe is facing economic losses and fatalities from weather and climate extremes every year and in all regions of Europe. The data on losses and fatalities is not yet collected or reported in sufficient quality across the EU Member States to support policy decisions, however some private companies collect these data. EEA has access to 2 of these private sources with data for 1980-2020: NatCatSERVICE from Munich Re (since 2012) and CATDAT from Risklayer (since 2021).

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Europe's changing climate hazards - an index-based interactive EEA report

Climate change is happening and we need to get ready for more intense heatwaves, floods and storms, wildfires and water scarcity. Different climate-related hazards affect regions, sectors of the economy and members of society in different ways. Decision-makers need the best data and information to help them understand the imperatives and make the necessary preparations — adapted to the different scenarios and likely consequences, at European, national and sub-national levels. Europe’s changing climate hazards, an interactive index-based EEA report, brings it all together with an overview of past and projected changes in Europe’s most important climate hazards.

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Exploring the social challenges of low-carbon energy policies in Europe

For climate change mitigation policies to be successful in reducing greenhouse gas emissions their potential social implications need to be considered and addressed. Together with multiple-level governance coordination and societal participation, these are the key success factors to achieve win-win social-climate policies, minimise the unfair impacts of carbon and energy taxes, and maximise environmental and health benefits.

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Knowledge for Action - Empowering the transition  to a sustainable Europe

Addressing Europe’s unprecedented environmental challenges will require policies, investments and knowledge to be brought together to transform the systems driving unsustainability while maximising the environmental, social and economic co benefits. This raises the question of whether it is sufficient to address the existing knowledge gaps — or do we need a new knowledge system for systemic transformation?

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Nature-based solutions in Europe: Policy, knowledge and practice for climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction

Working with nature can help prevent the worst impacts of climate change, and biodiversity and ecosystem loss. Nature-based solutions offer ways to do this. Science and policy have begun to recognise their potential. The knowledge base is expanding rapidly, with gaps identified and plans to fill them. However, challenges for implementation remain at the local level, as demonstrated by the case studies in this report.

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Global climate change impacts and the supply of agricultural commodities to Europe

The EEA has addressed the consequences of climate change in numerous reports, including Climate change, impacts and vulnerability in Europe 2016, the 2019 report Climate change adaptation in the agriculture sector in Europe and the European environment — state and outlook 2020 report. This briefing analyses the implications for Europe of the impact of global climate change on agricultural trade.

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Urban adaptation in Europe

EEA assessment report presenting the status quo of adaptation to climate change at the local government level, with particular focus on cities. The assessment presents the overview of climate risks to cities, types of adaptation responses, extent of adaptation planning and actions at the loal level in Europe and opportunities to scale up and speed up implementation of adaptation to climate change at the local level.

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Monitoring and evaluation of national adaptation policies throughout the policy cycle

The Global Goal on Adaptation aims to enhance adaptive capacity, strengthen resilience and reduce vulnerability to climate change. Given the impact of climate-related hazards, the question is not whether adaptation is necessary, but what are the adaptation options to increase resilience.

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Climate change adaptation in the agriculture sector in Europe

Climate change affects agriculture in a number of ways. Changes in temperature and precipitation as well as weather and climate extremes are already influencing crop yields and livestock productivity in Europe. Weather and climate conditions also affect the availability of water needed for irrigation, livestock watering practices, processing of agricultural products, and transport and storage conditions. Climate change is projected to reduce crop productivity in parts of southern Europe and to improve the conditions for growing crops in northern Europe. Although northern regions may experience longer growing seasons and more suitable crop conditions in future, the number of extreme events negatively affecting agriculture in Europe is projected to increase.

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Adaptation challenges and opportunities for the European energy system

Building a climate‑resilient low‑carbon energy system

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Addressing climate change adaptation in transnational regions in Europe

Europe’s border regions and maritime areas, like its Arctic and the Mediterranean regions, are facing negative impacts due to climate change. Countries responsible for these transnational areas are already taking action to adapt to changes in weather and climate extreme events (e.g. increased heat waves or heavy rainfalls). This briefing gives an up-to-date overview of how European countries are working together to adapt to climate change impacts in these shared regions, some of which are considered climate change ‘hot spots’ because they are most vulnerable to dramatic changes.

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Sharing adaptation information across Europe

This report provides an evaluation on how the growing knowledge on adaptation in Europe has been captured and how it is presented on the web-based European Climate Adaptation Platform (Climate-ADAPT) and shared across Europe.

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National climate change vulnerability and risk assessments in Europe 2018

This report provides the first systematic review of national climate change impact, vulnerability and risk assessments across Europe. It is based on information about relevant multi-sectoral assessments reported from EEA member countries. The purpose of the report is to share experiences and knowledge and to highlight approaches and practical solutions that countries have used to produce and present their assessments.

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Climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction in Europe

Enhancing coherence of the knowledge base, policies and practices. The report assesses current practices and level of know-how, and highlights emerging innovative tools national, regional and local authorities are using to tackle the impacts of weather- and climate-related hazards.

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Financing Europe’s low carbon, climate resilient future

The orderly transition to the low carbon, climate-resilient economy that Europe is aiming for is also an investment challenge that depends on a substantial redirection of finance flows towards more sustainable investments. Meeting this challenge and harvesting the associated opportunities requires an improved knowledge base in terms of clear investment information at EU and national levels. Assessing the state-of-play of climate finance tracking in Europe, a recent European Environment Agency (EEA) study indicates that few European countries have translated their national climate and energy objectives into corresponding investment needs and plans.

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The Arctic Environment

This European Environment Agency (EEA) report contributes to the growing international discourse on the Arctic region. It is both timely and important, since it examines the increasingly rapid changes that are taking place in the Arctic from a European perspective. It considers the national, regional and global challenges and opportunities that are emerging as a result

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Financing urban adaptation to climate change

This report shows that, although cities and municipalities across Europe increasingly acknowledge the need to adapt to climate change, meeting the costs of measures for adaptation remains very often a major challenge. Nevertheless, the report presents examples of several cities and municipalities that have found innovative ways of financing adaptation and implementing measures. These range from classic funds to more innovative financing mechanisms, including crowdfunding and green bonds. These solutions could be relevant for other cities, towns and smaller municipalities, and the examples are meant as an inspiration to learn from.

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Climate change, impacts and vulnerability in Europe 2016

This report is an indicator-based assessment of past and projected climate change and its impacts on ecosystems and society. It also looks at society’s vulnerability to these impacts and at the development of adaptation policies and the underlying knowledge base. This is the fourth ‘Climate change, impacts and vulnerability in Europe’ report, which is published every four years. This edition aims to support the implementation and review process of the 2013 EU Adaptation Strategy, which is foreseen for 2018, and the development of national and transnational adaptation strategies and plans.

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