The newly released Climate Adaptation Plan by the European Commission on 24 February 2021 emphasizes the need for smarter data for climate adaptation. It also focuses on local adaptation and the use of more nature-based solutions (NBS).
EU’s Climate Adaptation Plan recognizes that climate change is already happening, citing the record temperatures and extreme natural events that happened this decade and the urgent need to adapt.
Using nature-based solutions also supports biodiversity and the Green Deal objectives, including restoring peatlands, wetlands, coastal and marine ecosystems, developing green urban spaces, green roofs, and walls, and promoting sustainable forests and farmlands. Nature-based solutions are also a cost-effective climate adaptation strategy.
Challenges to EU’s Climate Adaptation Plan
There are knowledge gaps that need to be closed to prevent “climate-blind” solutions, according to a Euractiv article. The article also quotes Frans Timmermans, EU Green Deal chief, as pushing “nature-based solutions as the best solutions. “We need to make sure that we adapt and that we strengthen our nature so that it can be a good basis for carbon sinks,” says Timmermans.
Environmentalists pointed out that there are no binding targets and a clear timeline to the strategy. They assert that a strong correlation exists between mandatory policy targets and implementation, and a lack thereof does not guarantee the delivery of the desired results.
Focus on local resilience and supporting vulnerable countries with their climate adaptation.
The strategy supports EU local resilience through policies to develop and implement local adaptation plans and share transferrable solutions between regions.
The commission also highlights climate finance’s role to help the Least Develop Countries and Small Islands Developing States adapt to climate change.
Closing the climate gap
The climate gap also includes closing the finance, risk prevention, and insurance gap.
Closing the insurance gap would mean examining Europe’s coverage of natural disaster insurance and climate-related economic losses. In some parts of Europe, an average of 35% of climate-related losses are covered by insurance, while in other areas, it is as low as 5%.
Insurers and policy-makers will have to come together for improvements to happen. Nicolas Jeanmart, head of personal & general insurance at Insurance Europe, says that adaptation needs to occur at all levels, from the local to the global. As each member state is affected by climate change differently, there should not be a one-size-fits-all solution.
The strategy should also address climate change’s impacts on jobs. Rising temperatures can slash 2.2% of working hours or equal to 80 million full-time jobs and around $2 Trillion worth of losses by 2030, the article says.
Rising temperatures will significantly affect the agriculture and construction sectors, and trade unions hope to see a provision about maximum working temperatures in the EU adaptation plan.
The concept of “just resilience” in the strategy would need tangible measures to tackle climate change impacts. Ludovic Voet, ETUC Confederal Secretary, says that “The concept of ‘just resilience’ is interesting but needs to be translated into concrete policies to protect workers, low-income households and prevent water and energy poverty across Europe.”
To read the entire EU Climate Adaptation Plan, click the link below: