VERA – Forward Visions on the European Research Area

VERA is funded by the European Union's FP7 programme for research,
technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 290705

Adapting to Climate Change

Code: A12

Primary project information

Lead: Commission of the European Communities
Type of activity: White paper
Date conducted: 1.4.2009
Date of Publication: 1.4.2009
Duration: N/A
Summary: The White Paper sets out a framework to reduce the EU’s vulnerability to the impact of climate change. The framework will respect the principle of subsidiarity and support overarching EU objectives on sustainable development. The EU’s framework adopts a phased approach. The intention is that phase 1 (2009-2012) will lay the ground work for preparing a comprehensive EU adaptation strategy to be implemented during phase 2, commencing in 2013. Phase 1 will focus on four pillars of action: 1) building a solid knowledge base on the impact and consequences of climate change for the EU, 2) integrating adaptation into EU key policy areas; 3) employing a combination of policy instruments (market-based instruments, guidelines, public-private partnerships) to ensure effective delivery of adaptation and 4) stepping up international cooperation on adaptation.
Financed by: European Commission
Budget: N/A
Research area/market/industry/sector: climate, agriculture, forest, fisheries, energy, infrastructure, health, water resources, marine, tourism, biodiversity,
Main report (full title): Adapting to Climate Change: Towards a European framework for action


Economic Challenges: Infrastructure (buildings,transport, energy and water supply) is affected, posing a specific threat to densely populated areas. The situation could be exacerbated by the rise in sea level. A more strategic and long-term approach to spatial planning will be necessary, both on land and on marine areas, including in transport, regional development, industry, tourism and energy policies. Tourism is likely to suffer from decreasing snow cover in Alpine areas and from increasing temperatures in Mediterranean regions. Unsustainable forms of tourism can exacerbate the negative effects of climate change.
Economic Challenges Shortlist: A more strategic and long-term approach to spatial planning, both on land and on marine areas, including in transport, regional development, industry, tourism and energy policies; Tourism is likely to suffer from decreasing snow cover in Alpine areas and increasing temperatures in Mediterranean regions; Unsustainable tourism can exacerbate negative effects of climate change;
Geopolitical Challenges: Outside Europe, developing countries (including smal island states) will remain particularly vulnerable to climate change
Geopolitical Challenges Shortlist: Extreme vulnerability of developing countries (including small island states) to climate change
Societal Challenges: Changing water levels, temperatures and flow will in turn affect food supply, health, industry, and transport and ecosystem integrity. Climate change will lead to significant economic and social impacts with some regions and sectors likely to bear greater adverse affects. Certain sections of society (the elderly, disabled, low-income households) are also expected to suffer more.
Societal Challenges Shortlist: affects of changing water levels, temperatures, and flows on food supply, health, industry, and transport; unequal economic and social impacts of climate change on regions and sectors; disproportional suffering of elderly, disabled, low-income members of society
Health Challenges: Changing weather conditions will also have profound effects on human health and on animal and plant health. As extreme events become more frequent, weather-related deaths and diseases could rise. Climate change could also increase the spread of serious infectious vector-borne transmissible diseases including zoonoses i.e. diseases that can transmitted from animal to humans. Climate change will threaten animal wellbeing and could also impact plant health, favouring new or migrant harmful organisms, which could adversely affect trade in animals, plants and their products.
Health Challenges Shortlist: effects of changing weather conditions on human, animal, and plant health; potential increase in weather-related deaths and diseases due to more frequent extreme weather; potential spread of infectious vector-borne transmissible diseases due to climate change (including zoonoses, i.e. diseases transmittable from animals to humans)

Summary of relevant aspects

Aspects of ERA Governance: European Economic Recovery Plan (EERP) contains a number of proposals relating to climate change investments. Examples include modernising European infrastructure, promoting energy efficiency in buildings and the uptake of green products. These proposals will facilitate further adaptation to climate change and their results will be evaluated to determine future needs. Member States considering investment in infrastructure as a response to the economic crisis should ensure that resulting initiatives take adaptation needs fully into consideration.
Background information: The White Paper sets out a framework to reduce the EU’s vulnerability to the impact of climate change. It builds on the wide-ranging consultation launched in 2007 by the Green Paper on Adapting to Climate Change in Europe and further research efforts that identified action to be taken in the short-term.


Scenarios: No scenarios provided
Actions/solutions implied: In general:
–To promote strategies which increase the resilience to climate change of health, property and the productive functions of land, inter alia by improving the management of water resources and ecosystems. In developing the knowledge base:
– Take the necessary steps to establish by 2011 a Clearing House Mechanism
– Develop methods, models, data sets and prediction tools by 2011
– Develop indicators to better monitor the impact of climate change, including vulnerability impacts, and progress on adaptation by 2011
– Assess the cost and benefit of adaptation options by 2011

1. Increasing the resilience of health and social policies:
– Develop guidelines and surveillance mechanisms on the health impacts of climate change by 2011.
– Step up existing animal disease surveillance and control systems.
– Assess the impacts of climate change and adaptation policies on employment and on the well-being of vulnerable social groups.

2.Increasing the resilience of agriculture and forests : – Ensure that measures for adaptation and water management are embedded in rural development national strategies and programmes for 2007-2013.
– Consider how adaptation can be integrated into the 3 strands of rural development and give adequate support for sustainable production including how the CAP contributes to the efficient use of water in agriculture.
– Examine the capacity of the Farm Advisory System to reinforce training, knowledge and adoption of new technologies that facilitate adaptation.
– Update forestry strategy and launch debate on options for an EU approach on forest protection and forest information systems.

3. Increasing the resilience of biodiversity, ecosystems and water:
– Explore the possibilities to improve policies and develop measures which address biodiversity loss and climate change in an integrated manner to fully exploit co-benefits and avoid ecosystem feedbacks that accelerate global warming.
– Develop guidelines and a set of tools (guidance and exchange of best practices) by the end of 2009 to ensure that the River Basin Management Plans (RBMP) are climate-proofed
– Ensure that climate change is taken into account in the implementation of the Floods Directive.
– Assess the need for further measures to enhance water efficiency in agriculture, households and buildings.
– Explore the potential for policies and measures to boost ecosystem storage capacity for water in Europe.
– Draft guidelines by 2010 on dealing with the impact of climate change on the management of Natura 2000 sites.

4. Increasing the resilience of coastal and marine areas:
– Ensure that adaptation in coastal and marine areas is taken into account in the framework of the Integrated Maritime Policy, in the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and in the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.
– Develop European guidelines on adaptation in coastal and marine areas

5. Increasing the resilience of production systems and physical infrastructure :
– Take account of climate change impacts in the Strategic Energy Review process
– Develop methodologies for climate-proofing infrastructure projects and consider how these could be incorporated into the TEN-T and TEN-E guidelines and guidance on investments under Cohesion policy in the current period
– Explore the possibility of making climate impact assessment a condition for public and private investment
– Assess the feasibility of incorporating climate impacts into construction standards, such as Eurocodes
– Develop guidelines by 2011 to ensure that climate impacts are taken into account in the EIA and SEA Directives

– Estimate adaptation costs for relevant policy areas so that they can be taken into account in future financial decisions.
– Further examine the potential use of innovative funding measures for adaptation.
– Explore the potential for insurance and other financial products to complement adaptation measures and to function as risk sharing instruments.
– Encourage Member States to utilise the EU’s ETS revenues for adaptation purposes.

– Take a decision to establish by 1 September 2009 an Impact and Adaptation Steering Group (IASG) to step up cooperation on adaptation.
– Encourage the further development of National and Regional Adaptation Strategies with a view to considering mandatory adaptation strategies from 2012

– Step-up efforts to mainstream adaptation into all EU external policies.
– Strengthen dialogue with partner countries on adaptation issues.
– Take the Framework for Action on Adaptation forward in the UNFCCC.
Who benefits from the actions taken?: N/A

Meta information

Time horizon: 2010-
Methods: consultation, research
Target Group: EU, Member states
Objectives: To set out a framework to reduce the EU's vulnerability to the impact of climate change.
Countries covered: Europe
ERA actors/stakeholders mentioned: European Comission, member states, policy makers, national, local, regional level authorities in EU, The Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA), UNFCCC, business
Geographic scope:

Entry Details

Rapporteur: Jukka Hyvönen
Rapporteur's organization: VTT
Entry Date: 30.05.2012