Connie Hedegaard: Nærmiljøerne står forrest når klimaforandringerne rammer

01/05/2013 15:46

Martin Moneaux

It is good to see that municipalities are increasingly paying attention to the need for adaptation to climate change. We all know that if ever we are to limit climate change and diminish the threats from it, we must reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases. But it is also time to recognise that adaptation to climate change has become as indispensable as mitigating emissions. The effects of unavoidable climate change are being felt all over the world. As each year passes, the world experiences more extreme weather events: the hottest temperatures, the wettest months, the heaviest rainfalls, the most severe droughts, the worst wildfires, the longest heat waves… These events happen in Africa and Asia, in Australia and America, and of course in Europe too.

The most dramatic climate change impacts are felt at local level, so towns and cities across Europe are first in line in having to deal with the adverse effects of climate change. The European Commission is ready to help and offer support.

- The EU Cities Adapt project provides capacity building and assistance for cities to develop and implement local adaptation strategies by exchanging knowledge and good practices, and developing tools and guidance for cities on adaptation.

- The CLIMATE-Adapt platform, which we launched in March 2012, provides a variety of resources to support adaptation policy and decision making, including a toolset for adaptation planning; a database of projects and case studies; and information on adaptation action at all levels - at EU and national level but also at regional, municipal and local levels. We see Climate-ADAPT as the European site of reference for knowledge about adaptation and an indispensable tool for municipalities – for them to learn but also to share their experience.

But still much needs to be done. Indeed only 15 Member States have a national adaptation strategy. There is a need to step up action. The European Commission has just recently presented an EU strategy on adaptation to climate change:

- We propose that all Member States should have adaptation strategies in place by 2017 by the latest, without forgetting the need for complementary regional and local strategies too.

- We will integrate adaptation into all relevant EU policies and funding projects. Increased EU funds are available to finance adaptation actions, not only under the LIFE climate sub-programme but also through new instruments for urban areas as part of our cohesion policy.

- We will finally support adaptation action directly at cities level by launching an initiative modelled on the Covenant of Mayors, which currently focuses on mitigation but which will be expanded to promote and support local action on adaptation.

The European Commission now looks forward to engaging with all stakeholders to make the EU strategy as effective as possible. Cities and municipalities will be an essential voice as we take this forward. Hand in hand with sustainable urban development, adaptation to climate change offers great opportunities to make our cities better places to live in.

Connie Hedegaard er Klimakomissær i EU 

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