Green paper on adapting to climate change in Europe

On 29 June 2007 the European Commission decided to consult the European Economic and Social Committee, under Article 262 of the Treaty establishing the European Community, on the Green Paper from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions — Adapting to climate change in Europe — Options for EU action.

Climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing the world in the 21st century. Action to limit these changes by limiting emissions of greenhouse gases is the top priority. But it is also important to plan in good time for adapting to such changes as have now become unavoidable. The Green Paper is a welcome first step for Europe in facing up to this.

In the EESC's view the following key points should be covered in the development of the European and national adaptation strategies:

  • Strategies should deal with planning for all the topics identified in the Green Paper including coast protection, floods and droughts etc.
  • The need for adaptation should take a much larger share of European budgets in future programmes.
  • Substantial new and additional resources should be committed by Europe.
  • Mitigation and adaptation strategies must match up and complement one another.
  • European research into adaptation climate change impacts.
  • European civil society, including consumers and the general public, should be more extensively engaged in order to
  • spread wider public understanding.
  • An independent body should be established to monitor progress on adaptation to climate change.

The EESC believes that the specific action areas identified in the Green paper are broadly the right ones and therefore should develop concrete programmes and actions on each of these topics within the framework of their overall strategies. For example:

  1. The risk and incidence of serious fires is already increasing in areas such as the south of Europe that are becoming hotter and drier, therefore Protective measures and response capacities will need to be strengthened.
  2. Climate change may cause widespread dissemination of vectors of disease including the speading northwards of a number of diseases previously confined to the tropics.
  3. The European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) should build climate change into their budgetary processes and into their criteria for evaluating projects and programmes.