Floods force action on climate

Published: Tuesday 14th October 2014 by The News Editor

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Extreme weather conditions such as floods and heatwaves are pushing countries across Europe into taking action to adapt to a changing climate, a study has found.

The report questioned 30 European countries about action to cope with the impacts of climate change on areas ranging from agriculture to human health, and found the issue was on the national agenda in three-quarters of the nations.

Weather extremes, set to become more frequent and intense as global temperatures rise, were the most cited reason for taking action to cope with climate change, with 28 out of the 30 countries saying it was one of the top factors.

Floods, droughts and other extreme events such as the 2003 European heatwave have prompted moves to adapt to rising temperatures.

The majority of countries also said European Union policy and estimates for damage costs now or in the future were a key factor in pushing forward action to adapt to global warming, the European Environment Agency (EEA) report found.

Less than half (14 out of 30) said “pertinent results” from scientific research had spurred action, while only two said they were driven by media coverage and none cited private sector lobbying or public pressure as one of their three main drivers.

But two-thirds of countries reported a growing public awareness of the need to adapt climate change over the past five years.

Most countries also identified barriers to taking action, particularly a lack of resources such as time, money and technology.

Uncertainty about the extent of future climate change was also a factor in preventing action, although those behind the study said there were good examples across Europe of planning for the future.

One such example is in the UK, seen as a frontrunner on adapting to climate change, where the Thames Barrier has plans in place with different options for upgrading, retrofitting and monitoring to cope with changes in the coming decades.

Hans Bruyninckx, EEA executive director, said: “This is the first time European countries’ adaptation efforts have been analysed comprehensively.

“Attention is often on efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and for good reason. But adaptation is inevitable, so it is positive that there is now political focus on this issue across Europe. Many countries now need to turn plans into action.”

Published: Tuesday 14th October 2014 by The News Editor

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