Alarming report on climate risks in Europe:

an urgent call to action for Belgium and the EU

Alarming report on climate risks in Europe: an urgent call to action for Belgium and the EU

 12/03/2024

The European  Environment Agency’s recent EUCRA (European Climate Risk Assessment) report highlights the urgent need for immediate action in the face of growing climate challenges. This comes as Belgium, and Europe as a whole, gears up for crucial elections in June 2024. The disastrous floods of July 2021 in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands remind us of the tangible dangers of climate change and the need for proactive action. With significant loss of life and significant economic damage (more than 222 lives lost and economic damage estimated at €44 billion), the focus is on preventive measures to mitigate climate risks. These initiatives also take social justice into account.

Belgium, like other low-lying coastal regions, is particularly vulnerable to flooding, erosion and salt intrusion. Marine and coastal ecosystems are under serious threat, with major long-term consequences for food supplies, infrastructure and the economy. The report assesses 36 climate risks in different areas, 21 of which require immediate preparation. Eight of them are considered particularly urgent and underline the need to prepare Europe for climate change, restore nature, change agricultural practices, protect coastal areas and address vulnerabilities, especially in southern Europe.

The report analyses in detail the ability of sectoral policies to manage these risks and stresses the importance of integrating climate adaptation into all policies, following the recommendations made. It also highlights the need for budgets specifically allocated to climate adaptation in order to effectively combat the threats posed by climate change.

The European Member States and the Commission, which will present its communication on adaptation  to climate change, must translate these plans into concrete political action. In view of the upcoming national and regional elections and the appointment of a new team of European Commissioners, it is imperative that climate risks are addressed as a matter of urgency in all sectors. Events such as mega-flows can lead to water and food insecurity, disrupt critical infrastructure, and threaten financial markets and stability. Decisions taken today will have an impact on the challenges facing European citizens in the second half of the 21st century. These issues should therefore be at the heart of the priorities for the next political cycle (2024-2029).

Belgium currently holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union and wants to  make adaptation a priority in the conclusions of the Environment Council and integrate it into the discussions within all Council configurations.

The EUCRA report, based on existing knowledge and complemented by reports from the IPCC, C3S, the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) and EU-funded research projects, supports the development of strategic policies.

The Climate and Environment Risk Assessment Center (CERAC) is an independent federal institution created in Belgium following the devastating floods of July 2021. Its main mission is to assess medium- and long-term climate and environmental risks, with a focus on Belgium’s national security and resilience. CERAC aims to make Belgian society safer and more resilient in the face of climate and environmental risks and the consequences of ecological transition. To do this, it uses the framework of planetary limits to define a safe and equitable operating space for Belgium, assess the country’s ecological footprint and identify the dangers of exceeding these limits. CERAC is also preparing the first assessment of the risks of climate change and biodiversity loss in Belgium, intended to inform political decision-makers. The center is administratively integrated into the Federal Public Service for Public Health, Food Chain Safety and the Environment, and is supported by a cross-sectoral steering committee and a multidisciplinary scientific advisory board.

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