European cities must adapt to climate change, EU climate chief says

(EurActiv, 13 Sep 2021) European cities need to adapt as global warming worsens, leading to more floods and fires on the continent, according to the EU’s environment commissioner.

“This summer Europe has seen devastating fires and floods. Our cities need to prepare for a different future,” said Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius who spoke on Thursday (9 September) at an awards ceremony for green European cities hosted by the previous winner, Lahti, in Finland.

“The answer has to be greener cities – cities with lower pollution, which care more for citizens’ well-being,” he added, saying that going green also means building resilience.

The green European cities event follows a summer marked by floods and wildfires that caused devastation across Europe. Climate change will exacerbate these extreme weather trends, meaning cities will need to adapt to unpredictable weather as well as drastically cut their emissions, Sinkevičius said.

“Climate change is not a matter of political opinion. It is a scientific fact,” said Finnish prime minister Sanna Marin who spoke at the event. “However, we need political decisions in order to make sure that the climate actions are done in a socially just way,” she added.

Adaptation measures include flood prevention measures and renovating buildings to make them more resilient to extreme temperature. The changes required vary across the continent, but recent events have shown that climate change poses a threat to Europe’s cities.

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EurActiv, 13 Sep 2021: European cities must adapt to climate change, EU climate chief says