EC publishes evaluation of the EU Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change

The European Commission recently published its evaluation of the EU Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change. IEEP was part of the research team which helped prepare the evaluation report and Adaptation Preparedness Scoreboards for all Member States.

The report shows that the strategy has helped to focus decision-makers on the need to prepare for climate hazards, and helped to ensure that EU level policies and budgets integrate climate change considerations. However, action is still needed, for example to better integrate different actions under the strategy, and to synchronise it better with global collective policy and actions on sustainable development, biodiversity and disaster risk reduction. There also needs to be better implementation of existing plans at all levels, especially local, and better monitoring the results of the plans.

The Member State scoreboards provide a detailed overview of the legal framework and policy for adaptation action in all Member States. IEEP had lead responsibility for the Danish, French, Maltese, and Swedish scoreboards.

The Commission and the legislators have so far taken a largely voluntary approach to adaptation – which reflects the idea that adaptation action usually makes clear sense from the point of view of the individual or organisation taking the action. However, collectively we are developing a better understanding of the ways in which coherent adaptation action can be more effective, and more experience of the effectiveness of policy approaches to encourage action; and this, coupled with the way in which recent climate and weather events have increased public understanding of the urgency, mean that the time is right to consider a more active approach.

One option would be to in the future improve transparency and visibility of adaptation preparedness: the Member States could, for example, have increased reporting obligations on climate adaptation action, which could be further developed through the EU's greenhouse gas monitoring mechanisms and the governance framework for climate and energy. Direct work with the local and regional levels, potentially with support from relevant areas of the EU budget, could also help to scale up adaptation efforts and disaster preparedness and to improve planning mechanisms to limit future climate change impacts.

Climate adaptation requires coordination across different levels of decision making; this needs to be addressed, and implementation of public sector action needs to improve, in order to make sure that the adaptation measures and decisions can start to take shape with the required urgency.