Environment Ministers start informal meeting with discussion on adaptation

Adaptation to the impacts of climate change – this was the issue discussed today by the EU Environment Ministers during the first day of their ongoing informal meeting in Prague.

“Although we are doing as much as we can to reduce European greenhouse gas emissions, we know very well that mitigation is not enough. A complementary set of measures is needed to adjust to the already visible effects of climate change,” said the EU Environment Council President, Czech Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment Martin Bursík. He mentioned climate change impacts such as increased occurrence of extreme floods, retreating Alpine glaciers and huge changes in precipitation patterns in Europe. “These effects are going to intensify in the next few decades as we are being warned by scientists throughout the world,” Bursík added.

The Ministers agreed that Europe as well as other world regions need a variety of measures to increase the resilience of natural and human systems to the impacts of climate change. “I am not just speaking about building higher dykes. We need to change our whole mindset and integrate adaptation to climate change into all our policies, from agriculture over water and energy to financial insurance.

The EU Environment Ministers meeting today in Prague shared their own experience with adapting to climate change. Eight Member States (Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom) have already adopted their National Adaptation Strategies.

The Ministers also welcomed the White Paper on Adaptation, recently (1 April) published by the European Commission, which says that the impacts of climate change will vary by region (with coastal and mountain areas and flood plains being particularly vulnerable). It means inter alia that most adaptation measures will be carried out nationally or regionally. But for three main reasons the approach should be coordinated. “Firstly, climate change impacts have cross-border effects, for example for river basins. Then we have sectors like agriculture, water management or fishery, which are deeply integrated and for which we have common policies. And the third reason is solidarity among EU Member States,” says Environment Council President Bursík.

The Ministers also agreed that to design effective adaptation measures and policies a better knowledge base is needed (likely impacts of climate change, associated socio-economic aspects and costs and benefits of possible adaptation actions) and stressed the importance of exchanging information, which can be accomplished by establishing a Clearing House Mechanism as proposed by the Commission.

“We also need to re-evaluate our existing policies and legislation such as the Framework Water Directive, the Common Agriculture Policy and the Natura 2000 Network to be better prepared to coming climate change impacts. Climate change must be much more clearly reflected in land-use and urban planning,” Martin Bursík stressed.

The Prague informal meeting of EU Environment Ministers is the first high-level meeting to discuss adaptation policies within the EU. For the Environment Council at the end of June, the Czech Presidency will prepare draft Council Conclusions to formally round off these discussions and come up with concrete decisions on this issue.


Contact:

  • Jakub Kašpar, Spokesperson, Ministry of the Environment, Czech Republic
  • tel.:  +420 267 122 040, GSM: +420 724 175 927; e-mail: jakub.kaspar@mzp.cz

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Last update: 16.8.2011 15:32

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