01 March 2021
  • European Union
  • climate change adaptation
  • conflict risk

New EU climate adaptation strategy recognises the security risks that climate change entails

The European Commission adopted a new strategy last week that will determine how the EU will adapt to the unavoidable effects of climate change over the coming decades. The strategy notes that climate change is already negatively affecting Europe, as exemplified by the 2500 deaths and billions of euros in agricultural damage from the 2019 heatwave. Because this will only get worse in the future, the strategy’s goal is to ensure a climate-resilient EU by 2050. This will be done internally through three main pathways. The first centres around smarter adaptation, where the Commission will fund research and extensive data collection on both environmental and social conditions so as better to understand the risks Europe faces. The second advocates for systemic adaptation. The magnitude of the climate threat is so large that it must be addressed systemically, at all levels. This entails emphasising adaptive measures at the macroeconomic-fiscal policy level, in nature-based solutions for adaptation and in localised adaptation efforts. Thirdly, faster adaptation must be engendered if the EU is to meet its ambitious targets. To this end, the EU has increased the funds available for climate action by 30%, which will fund both adaptation and pilot programs to see what adaptation measures work best.

The impacts of climate change will also be felt abroad. Indeed, referring to an EU paper from 2008, the Commission acknowledges that:

Climate change multiplies the threats to international stability and security, which affect in particular people in already fragile and vulnerable situations” 

To this end their new Climate adaptation strategy will seek to promote adaptation in countries that are likely to experience adverse impacts from climate change, especially developing countries. For example, the EU spent about 3.4 billion euros helping Africa to adapt to climate change between 2014 and 2019 with initiatives like the Great Green Wall in the Sahel. The need to keep adaptive measures conflict-sensitive and to make sure that marginalised groups are included reflects the Commission’s concern about the risks that climate change raises for conflict.

Find the full paper HERE.

Photo Credit: Guillaume Périgois/Unsplash