Extreme weather forces unprepared Europe to focus on climate adaptation

(Clean Energy Wire, 26 Jan 2023) Deadly summer heatwaves, floods, and snow-free ski slopes in winter are a wake-up call: Europe must urgently adapt to climate change, in addition to reducing emissions.

Temperatures in the region have increased at more than twice the global average, making climate adaptation ever more pressing, but also a moving target. The EU is considered a global adaptation pioneer and has recently stepped up coordination of member states’ responses, but the challenges are huge, and many plans remain non-binding “soft” policies. Preparation is also hampered by the delayed benefits of climate adaptation beyond electoral terms, and a lack of financing.

Mention climate change and the need to adapt to the increasing number and ferocity of extreme weather events, and most people mention drought in East Africa or flooding in low-lying Bangladesh. The region experiencing the highest rises in temperatures because of climate change is, however, Europe. The impacts of this warming were fully felt in 2022, as various countries suffered the worst drought and highest temperatures on record. The trend continued in 2023 as the continent experienced a winter heatwave. The warm temperatures led many to rue the lack of snow in lower lying ski resorts, but more problematic is the impact this will have on freshwater supplies later this year.

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Clean Energy Wire, 26 Jan 2023: Extreme weather forces unprepared Europe to focus on climate adaptation