Positive Environment News

EU Warns Citizens: Adapt to Climate Change Now

Date: 02-Jul-07
Country: BELGIUM
Author: Jeff Mason

In addition to cutting greenhouse gas emissions to halt global warming, Europeans should change the way they live and work to mitigate the effects of rising temperatures, the European Commission said in a document.

The paper raised the possibility that entire cities may eventually have to be moved.

"Climate change is happening here and now, and we must start adapting to it," Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas told a news conference. "For some people it is really a question of adapt or die."

Climate change has already led to casualties in Europe. The heat wave in 2003 caused some 70,000 premature deaths, the Commission said.

It said melting glaciers are threatening the closure of low-lying ski resorts.

The 27-nation EU aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020, compared with 1990 levels, and is pushing for a worldwide agreement that would seek even deeper cuts.

But at least some degree of climate change is inevitable, even with efforts to halt or slow the process. Temperatures in Europe rose by almost one degree Celsius over the last century, which was higher than the global average, it said.

The Commission paper, a later version of a document that Reuters reported on in May, lays out strategies to deal with the problem.

Low-cost "soft" options include changing crop rotations and sowing dates, using drought-tolerant plants and adopting water conservation measures.

It also lists costlier, more dramatic options that could involve "increasing the height of dykes, relocating ports, industry and entire cities and villages from low-lying coastal areas and flood plains, and building new power plants because of failing hydropower stations."

The Commission said climate change adaptation would have to be integrated into a wide range of EU policies, including the the bloc's farm subsidies programme -- the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

The paper suggests setting up an advisory group to study mitigation measures in a coordinated way across the bloc. Dimas said the paper was meant to raise awareness and could also prompt legislative proposals in the future.

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