Background and Goals
The impacts of climate change pose significant social, environmental and economic threats to the European and global community. Increasingly frequent weather extremes (precipitation, floods, heat waves and droughts), melting snow cover, rising temperatures and rising sea levels will increasingly affect livelihoods, food production, energy supply, infrastructure and ecosystems - in fact, society as a whole. The hot summer of 2003 is estimated by the reinsurance company Munich Re to have led to €10bn losses to EU farming, livestock and forestry from the combined effect of drought, heat stress and fire.
To be able to take the necessary decisions on how best to adapt, it is essential to have access to reliable data on the likely impact of climate change, the associated socio-economic aspects and the costs and benefits of various adaptation options. The European Commission's 2009 White Paper on Adaptation emphasised that the lack of knowledge is a major obstacle to the development of successful climate change adaptation responses.
The aim of CLIMATE-ADAPT is therefore to help Europe adapt to the climate change. To this end, a publicly accessible, web-based platform has been developed, designed to support policy-makers at EU, national, regional and local levels in the development of climate change adaptation measures and policies. Adaptation means anticipating the adverse effects of climate change and taking appropriate action to prevent or minimise the damage they can cause.
The Internet platform CLIMATE-ADAPT has been developed with the support of the European scientific and policy making community, and will help users to access information on:
- Expected climate change in Europe;
- The vulnerability of regions, countries and sectors now and in the future;
- Information on national, regional and transnational adaptation activities and strategies;
- Case studies of adaptation and potential future adaptation options;
- Online tools that support adaptation planning;
- Adaptation-related research projects, guideline documents, reports information sources, links, news and events.
Steps in the process of adaptation to climate change
Step 1: Understand and describe climate change
The platform provides access to various climate scenario studies for analysing potential climate change effects. Included are links to studies and results of the ENSEMBLE project and UKCIP activities.
- River flooding
- Heat waves
- Flash floods
- Altered rainfall patterns
- Higher average temperatures
- Sea level rise und storm surges
- Low water
- Extreme precipitation (incl. hail, snow)
- Dry periods
ice and snow
Step 2a: Identify and assess risks - climate effects and impact
The Internet platform provides cross-sectoral information on the potential climate change effects and consequences.
Step 2b: Identify and assess risks - Vulnerability, risks and chances
Vulnerability assessment is the analysis of the expected impacts, risks and the adaptive capacity of a region or sector to the effects of climate change. Vulnerability assessment encompasses more than the simple measurement of the potential harm that could be caused by events resulting from the climate change: it also includes an assessment of the region's or sector's ability to adapt. Within the context of climate change, the IPCC defines vulnerability to climate change as the degree to which a system is susceptible to, or unable to cope with, adverse effects of climate change, including climate variability and extremes.
Given the differences in defining and applying vulnerability and risk assessments, the CLIMATE-ADAPT platform does not enforce a strict definition of vulnerability. A broad overview of vulnerability and natural hazard risk assessments is presented and guidance is provided for conducting a vulnerability assessment. Users can obtain specific information about statistics and scenarios for climate change vulnerability in specific sectors, such as water, cryosphere, terrestrial biosphere (including biodiversity, agriculture and forestry), oceans, or urban areas and health.
The PESETA study of the EU Joint Research Centre has estimated that, without adaptation to climate change, if the projected climate of the 2080s were to occur today, the annual damage to the EU economy would be between €20-65bn. Such risks require us to take action now to ensure that our society is able to adapt to the consequences of climate change, moderating its negative effects and exploiting beneficial opportunities.
Evidence of the economic benefits of adaptation action is mounting: the current annual economic damage for the EU due to floods alone is about €6.4bn and is projected to increase many times over by 2050. Adaptation measures could avoid such damages at only a small fraction of their expected costs.
Step 3: Develop and compare measures
The "Adaptation Support Tool" provided by the Internet platform assists users in developing sound adaptation measures by providing access to an appropriate knowledge base, thus contributing to the development of a comprehensive EU adaptation strategy. The adaptation measures are aimed at keeping the climate risks within acceptable limits. The European Commission will adopt an EU Adaptation Strategy at the beginning of 2013, in response to the needs of the Member States, transnational organizations, and local stakeholders for such an instrument, addressing appropriate measures at the EU level. Possible adaptation measures can be searched for specifically with the case study search tool on the platform. For this purpose, users can select between specific climate change effects and/or adaptation areas in the search function. A further search tool is realized in the form of an interactive map that helps users find adaptation measures in specific European countries and regions.
European Commission (DG CLIMA, DG Joint Research Centre and other directorate-generals)
European Environmental Agency (EEA)
EC Directorate-General for Climate Action (DG CLIMA)
EC Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability (IES)
European Tropic Centre on Climate Change Impacts, Vulnerability and Adaptation (ETC/CCA)