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Offbeat EU wants to better arm itself against climate change

18:51  24 february  2021
18:51  24 february  2021 Source:   dw.com

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Global warming and its consequences can already be felt across Europe. The EU Commission therefore wants to systematically protect citizens and the economy better.

Machlos gegen die Flammen: Waldbrand bei Athen im Jahr 2015 © A. Messinis / AFP / Getty Images Powerless against the flames: Forest fire near Athens in 2015

The Vice President of the EU Commission, Frans Timmermanns, presented an adaptation strategy in Brussels, which primarily focuses on the exchange of information about local consequences of the global Warming, future risks and successful countermeasures sets. Billions of sums are available from various EU pots. "The strategy must help to make the European Union not only climate-neutral by 2050, but also climate-resistant," emphasized the Dutchman.

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The adaptation to heat waves, droughts, massive forest damage and the rise in sea level must be "based on solid data and risk assessment instruments," declared the EU Commission . To this end, she wants to expand the European knowledge platform for climate adaptation (Climate-ADAPT) and create a "special observatory" to analyze the dangers of climate change on the health and life of people.

The lessons of the corona pandemic

The corona crisis shows the dire consequences of inadequate preparation, explained Timmermans. "There is no vaccine for the climate crisis, but we can fight it and prepare for the inevitable effects." The cornerstones of his strategy are: more knowledge about the climate impacts, more precise assessment of the risks; react faster; help our international partners to a greater extent.

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EU-Kommissionsvizepräsident Frans Timmermans © Stephanie Lecocq / REUTERS EU Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans

The Commission will therefore take into account adaptation to climate change when allocating all funds and projects at EU level, said the Dutchman. "An investment that does not take climate risk into account is a lost investment."

Amount of damage continues to rise

According to Timmermans, the economic damage caused by the effects of climate change in the EU currently averages twelve billion euros per year. If the warming were not stopped at less than two degrees as planned, but only at three degrees compared to pre-industrial times, the losses would grow to at least 170 billion euros per year, the commission calculates.

According to the Commissioner, the natural disaster with the most deaths in the world in 2019 was the European heat wave that killed 2,500 people. With the extreme weather, unprecedented forest fires, devastating droughts and cyclones would have increased. The Commission also counts an unprecedented spread of bark beetles in Central and Eastern Europe as one of the consequences of climate change.

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The effects would affect industries from agriculture to fish cultures, tourism and power generation to goods traffic on rivers. Farmers have to be prepared for the fact that rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere affect their crops, but also drought or floods. Buildings can not only be swept away by storms, but their substance would also be endangered by rising or falling water levels.

Greens call for concrete stipulations

As soon as the plan has been presented, critics speak up who rate it as too vague. The project is too vague for the Greens. "The strategy for climate adaptation is urgently needed, but disappointing," criticized MEP Michael Bloss. "The search for something specific becomes a search for a needle in a haystack."

The Climate Action Network of environmental organizations also criticized the fact that there were no binding targets. The SPD MEP Delara Burkhardt reminded that climate change affects the poor, the elderly and the sick in particular. "The strategy must pay special attention to these groups of people," demanded Burkhardt.

kle / rb (dpa, afp, rtre)

Ottawa’s decision on controlling the fate of GTA West Highway will come by May 4th .
For more than a year, the PC government’s plan to build a sprawling GTA West transportation corridor flew under the radar. When Doug Ford and his colleagues moved to restart the highway’s environmental assessment (EA) in 2019, reversing the previous Liberal government’s decision to scrap it, few noticed. Subsequent advancements of the project also received little attention, despite sustained opposition by advocacy groups such as Environmental Defence. As 2021 dawned, something started to shift.

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