EU says more needed to prepare for climate change risks

By Thomson Reuters Mar 12, 2024 | 12:08 PM

By Kate Abnett

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union must step up preparations for climate change risks, as a hotter planet threatens everything from farming to financial stability, the European Commission said on Tuesday.

The Commission was responding to a stark report published on Monday by the European Environment Agency (EEA), which urged EU countries to prepare for “catastrophic” risks from worsening climate change.

Climate-caused damages could soar without stronger action to prepare. As sea levels rise, damage from coastal floods could exceed 1 trillion euros ($1.09 trillion) per year in Europe by 2100, the EEA said. For comparison, the EU’s total gross domestic product in 2022 was 15.8 trillion euros.

With EU Parliament elections slated for June, the Commission did not propose any major new policies in response to the EEA report. New climate policies will be put forward by the next European Commission, which will be formed after the election.

The Commission, however, said it would make some changes – for example, by updating standards known as Eurocodes – which guide the structural design of buildings and civil engineering works – to make it mandatory to consider climate risks.

Preparations for worse climate change will be factored into all relevant EU spending, the Commission said.

The EU will also assess its future policies against a scenario in which climate change raises global temperatures by nearly 3 degrees Celsius by 2100, as a baseline for assessing risks to infrastructure, farming and health.

Greenhouse gas emissions have already raised global temperatures to around 1.2 C above pre-industrial times.

The EU also plans to launch a satellite emergency warning service in 2025, which could communicate alerts to citizens and public authorities when floods or wildfires strike.

Despite acknowledging the mounting toll climate change is unleashing on Europe’s farmers – floods in Greece destroyed 15% of the country’s agricultural yield last year – the Commission did not signal any upcoming policy changes that would drive the sector to adapt.

($1 = 0.9162 euros)

(Reporting by Kate Abnett; Editing by Paul Simao)