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Commission sets out climate change adaptation plans

The European Commission has set out a strategy to help the EU cope with the impacts of climate change. In the White Paper 'Adapting to climate change: Towards a European framework for action', the Commission points out that even if greenhouse gas emissions are successfully red...

The European Commission has set out a strategy to help the EU cope with the impacts of climate change. In the White Paper 'Adapting to climate change: Towards a European framework for action', the Commission points out that even if greenhouse gas emissions are successfully reduced on a global scale, the greenhouse gases we have already released into the atmosphere will remain for some time yet, meaning that a certain degree of climate change is now inevitable. Meanwhile, recent research suggests that the impacts of climate change will be greater and felt sooner than many had expected. Research has an important role to play in the adaptation process: 'More knowledge is needed on climate impact and vulnerability so that appropriate policy responses can be developed,' the paper reads. 'The knowledge generated on adaptation should also be made available to other countries, in particular developing countries.' More research is needed if we are to improve our understanding of the impacts of climate change and develop the skills, methods and technologies to cope with these impacts. On this topic, the paper notes that one of the Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) will focus on climate change and adaptation. Currently, research results are not always shared between different Member States. To get round this problem, the Commission proposes the establishment of a Clearing House Mechanism, through which information on climate change risks, impacts and best practices could be exchanged. The Clearing House Mechanism should be set up by 2011. Elsewhere, the strategy highlights the importance of accounting for the impacts of climate change in all policy areas, especially health, agriculture, forestry, biodiversity, and coastal and marine policies. In each area, policy makers should investigate the actual and potential impacts of climate change, calculate the costs of action and inaction, and analyse the impacts of possible measures on other policy areas. 'The seriousness of climate change is becoming greater and more disturbing with each passing year,' said European Commissioner for the Environment Stavros Dimas. 'We must work hard to reduce carbon emissions, but even with the emission reductions we are committed to achieving, some amount of climate change is inevitable. 'It is therefore essential that we start work now with governments, business, and communities to develop a comprehensive adaptation strategy for the EU and to ensure that adaptation is integrated into key EU policies.' The Commission will create an Impact and Adaptation Steering Group (IASG) to oversee the implementation of the strategy. This will be made up of representatives of the EU Member States and will be supported by technical groups focusing on key sectors. Between now and 2012, the IASG will work to develop a comprehensive strategy on adapting to climate change from 2013 on. Climate change is expected to affect a broad range of key social and economic sectors and areas, including agriculture, energy, transport, tourism and health. Ecosystems are also expected to be affected. Businesses and households alike will experience the effects of climate change, with the elderly, the disabled and those on low incomes likely to suffer the most. Impacts will also vary by region, with coastal regions, mountainous areas and flood plains being particularly vulnerable.

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