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European Climate Change Study Launched In Brussels

June 23, 2009

Two new reports examining climate change adaptation and policy making across Europe will be launched today in Brussels in the presence of Peter Gammeltoft, Head of Unit ‘Protection of Water & Marine Environment’ at the European Commission. The preliminary conclusions of the research were used in the European Commission’s White Paper on climate change, published in April 2009.

The reports are published by the Partnership for European Environmental Research (PEER), a grouping of seven of the biggest European environmental research institutes. PEER is chaired by Professor Pat Nuttall, Director of the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology.

Speakers at the Brussels event include Prof. Nuttall, the lead authors of the two reports, Rob Swart, from Alterra in the Netherlands and Per Mickwitz, from Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), Ellen Margrethe Basse from Aarhus University, and Katherine Richardson, Vice Dean, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, who organised the recent Climate Change Conference in Denmark held in March 2009

Peter Gammeltoft said, “I greatly welcome the publication of these two new reports from the Partnership for European Environmental Research. It is this sort of dialogue between the research institutes across Europe and national and European policymakers that is essential if we are to successfully deal with the many threats that climate change poses.”

The first new report from PEER, ‘Europe Adapts to Climate Change: Comparing National Adaptation Strategies’, critically analyzes the current status of national adaptation strategies in EU member states, and identifies a variety of opportunities to strengthen their further development and implementation, including timely and targeted scientific research.

The second report, ‘Climate Policy Integration, Coherence and Governance’, concludes that specific measures to tackle climate change, such as emissions trading, will only be successful if they are coherently supported by other government policies addressing economic and social issues.

Professor Pat Nuttall, Director, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, UK, said, “As PEER chair, I know how important it is to work together within Europe to ensure that future decisions will be based on the best information available, minimizing risks and, in some cases, turning threats into opportunities. There is a huge need for increased policy and programme evaluation from a climate change perspective, and these reports are a contribution towards achieving this goal.”

The new reports deal with several aspects of implementing climate policy in Europe. The first report analyses the adaptation strategies of the EU member states, identifying a number of common strengths and weaknesses of the current strategies in the countries studied. The second report assesses the degree of climate policy integration in six different European countries, at national and local levels, as well as within key policy sectors such as energy and transport. It analyses measures and means to enhance climate policy integration and improve policy coherence.

Rob Swart, from Alterra in the Netherlands, the lead author of report 1 on ‘Europe Adapts to Climate Change: Comparing National Adaptation Strategies’ said, “We note that communication and awareness raising is going to be important to get public support for adaptation measures, and to help stakeholders to adapt. Since adaptation is very different from mitigation, communication should be designed specifically for that purpose, including exchange of experiences on adaptation practices. It could well be that breaking down institutional barriers will actually be more important than the technical feasibility of adaptation options.”

Dr. Per Mickwitz, from the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), lead author of report 2 on ‘Climate Policy Integration, Coherence and Governance’, said, “Although the inclusion of climate change mitigation and adaptation in general governmental programmes and strategies has substantially increased in recent years, much more is needed in terms of integrating climate issues into specific policy measures. Annual budgets, environmental impact assessments and spatial planning procedures are three examples of existing measures which we believe have significant potential to be climate policy instruments.”

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