Are extreme weather events still “extreme” if they happen all the time? If record-busting heatwaves, snowfall, storms, droughts and so on are growing more common, is extreme weather just the new normal (as depressing as that thought is)? Is it time to start worrying more about adaptation and resilience, alongside trying to reduce carbon emissions?

Climate change is coming. There is still time to avoid the most catastrophic scenarios if we drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and if there is sufficient political will (including going above and beyond the agreement on climate change reached at Paris). However, the pace of change has been slow, and it is inevitable we are going to feel the impact of historical emissions (as well as the greenhouse gases being released today).

On 24 April 2018, our partner think tank Friends of Europe held an event in Brussels on Building Climate Resilience. This event was the second of a series of debates that Friends of Europe held on resilience, aimed at developing, fostering and promoting resilience building into systems, policies and approaches that enable states and societies to withstand, adapt, recover and respond to shocks and crises.

What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in from Yannick who is worried about the failure of climate change mitigation. This, of course, raises a related question: is climate change “resilience” seen as an alternative to climate change “mitigation”? Is the growing use of the term a recognition that attempts at mitigation have failed?

To get a response, we put Yannick’s comment to James Close, Director for Climate Change at the World Bank. How would he respond?

[…] I think climate resilience for us means being able to respond to the inevitable changes in climate in a way that builds in long-term planning. Particularly for infrastructure, it enables resilience to be built in from the beginning, particularly in response to changing weather patterns – be that increased storms, or different water flows in rivers. That kind of planning in infrastructure is very important for climate resilience

I don’t think it means we’ve given up on mitigation at all. I think mitigation is extremely important, the Paris agreement is very clear what we need to do. But never mind the pace at which we mitigate, we are going to see climate changes, and building resilience is therefore extremely important as well.

For another perspective, we also put the same comment to Joyce Coffee, founder and President of Climate Resilience Consulting. What would she say?

The quest for resilience is really an attempt to close the very big gap between climate mitigation and climate adaptation. So, in between those two is resilience, and what we need to do in order to close the gap is to both increase mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, as well as increasing adaptation to climate change.

Just in case you’re wondering, adaptation to climate change is allowing for lives to be saved and livelihoods improved even as we have increasing temperatures causing sea-level rise, coastal flooding, inland flooding, vector-born disease changes, and so on.

We also had a comment from PG, who believes that political leaders need to start a discussion on the sustainability of their countries, particularly as the effects of climate change start to be felt more and more. Is that happening in Europe? What’s the current state of play? Is Europe ready for climate change?

How would James Close, Director for Climate Change at the World Bank, respond? How “resilient” to climate change is Europe today?

So, is Europe ready for climate change? It’s a very broad question, of course. What we see is that certain countries have been very swift to respond to changing weather patterns. So, Serbia, for example, has built in significant resilience to many of its roads and bridges as it responded to floods in the last few years. So, some countries are taking the lead here, and others are taking a little more time to respond. But we think it’s really important to build those plans into the expectations around financing, the expectations around long-term economic growth, and the expectations around population movement as well, as has been indicated by the work that we’ve done recently on groundswell and how people will be moving as a result of climate change within borders.

Finally, what would Joyce Coffee from Climate Resilience Consulting say? How would she respond to the same question?

Well, Europe is a giant place and many countries within the geography are more prepared than others. There are, in fact, indices that show which countries are better-prepared to deal with climate change.I recommend to you the gain.org index – the global adaptation index – as a place to go and see how prepared your country is in comparison to other countries.

But, in fact, upper-income countries are much more prepared for climate change, simply because they’ve done a better job of handling crises in the past, and so they have history with how to be more resilient to any sort of crisis, be it as shock like an extreme weather event, or a stress like a drought.

On the other hand, within countries, we know we have disproportionate risk. Not only do we have rich and poor countries being better-prepared for climate risks, we also have within countries communities that are lower-resourced that will have a much harder time to prepare for and withstand these changes in climate. So many policymakers need to be focused on the least-resourced communities in their countries in order to say that they are honestly preparing for changes in climate.

Is Europe ready for climate change? And does focusing on “climate resilience” mean we’ve given up on stopping climate change from happening? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: (c) / BigStock – Mbruxelle


40 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Ivan

    Given most people live near water and the oceans levels historically go up and down, no the EU isn’t ready for it.

  2. avatar
    Alexander

    What’s “climate change”, I thought it was called “global warming” ?

    • avatar
      Uli

      Climate change is an effect of global warming. Easy as that

    • avatar
      Alexander

      But “scientists” said in the past that the Earth was cooling, recently it was warming , now it’s simply “change”. I can’t take this much pressure, which one is it 😥 ?

    • avatar
      Jane

      what’s with “scientists”? It is a more complicated situation than you seem to be describing – read up some of the mainstream explanations and it will make sense to you.

  3. avatar
    John Costigane

    The natural climate changes and has always changed since the year dot. Man-made climate change however is a scientific narrative beloved of climate alarmists. They are unable to identify the human component relying on climate models which have little basis in reality.

    My view is that alarmists should pay themselves for the costs of climate change. I prefer to wonder at the power of Nature which dwarfs puny man’s contributions.

  4. avatar
    Italia

    La Geoingegneria è responsabile

  5. avatar
    Maxime

    With climate related deaths down 98% in seventy years thanks to the technologies powered by cheap, reliable, concentrated and clean energy provided by fossil fuels, I d say we have mastered the climate. Whatever small side effect there is to added co2 in the atmosphere, it s nothing compared to the huge benefits derived from fossil fuels.

    • avatar
      Jane

      Wow. Serious denial.

    • avatar
      Maxime

      Jane actual data from the international disaster database

  6. avatar
    Ramie

    This rising tide will in the not to distant future have disasterous effects on Dublin wsterford and all low lying sea side town . Europe and Ireland are in denial .

  7. avatar
    Marreko

    Debating rules without understanding nature,is like living in a cave,staying there afraid of war,never see the sun and its power

  8. avatar
    EU Reform- Proactive

    If the state’s prime responsibility is to safeguard & care for its citizens, than one should expect to see more foresight & tangible actions from leading politicians & their parties.

    Surely, richer nations could adopt a higher & safer standard than poor ones. The EU “harmonizing” principle want hardly work to mitigate the extreme weather pattern in future- or?

    Maybe the many political “think tanks” should be halved and transformed into “how best to protect a states infrastructure, its economy & the habitat of its citizens” against the predicted and probable extreme weather patterns in future.

    Who is updating Building & Civil engineering design criteria’s? Increased standards & safety factors are needed to accommodate extreme temperatures, higher wind stresses, extreme flooding, plan & provide emergency shelters in safe areas. All that additional safety would cost a lot of money! What is affordable from the state’s side- what can be expected from the civilian side?

    Has such a reality check & costing ever been done or contemplated by politicians- apart from arguing endlessly about the change in climate & CO2?

  9. avatar
    randomguy2017

    Climate change?

    Maybe elites who fund wars and attack Christians,
    can do something about it.

    They are the ones with private jets, gas guzzler cars, owning all the corporations, while they try to get poorer people and countries to abandon their industries.

  10. avatar
    Max, Rosie, Dylan, Diana, Ines

    There’s places in Europe that’s located near water, so when the glaciers melt and the sea level rises because of global warming city’s and people will have trouble. I don’t think Europe’s ready,I don’t think the world is ready for it. Just imagine all the people in the u-countries suffering extra just beacause of our actions.

  11. avatar
    Ivan

    There is no evidence of an increase in extreme weather events so what exactly are they going to be talking about ?

    • avatar
      Larry

      There is a lot of evidence and from the likes of NASA and many other scientists. Please google for it instead of spreading alt-right propaganda. https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/

    • avatar
      Ivan K

      Ivan if aliens exist they could be watching stop embarasing us with your views. Like whenever you say anything you just prove to everyone how uneducated you are. You lack of knowledge is shown through climate change denialism, xenophobia, extreme nationalism and so on. Get educated in the fields of envrionment protection, sociology, politics, philosophy, history (or any other field of science/study) before ever speaking on these or any other related issues, you will notice difference in you arguments, they will likely improve. Also a lion and a UK flag? British imperialism much? Monty Python made good jokes on that subject years ago, watch meaning of life to know what they had to say. Regardless of your age it is never too late nor too early to learn on what the problems are and ways to deal with them. Or you can just spew pointless nonsense and hide behind the flag and a lion.

    • avatar
      Ivan

      Ivan K By my views you mean facts and data as opposed to your sheep mentality ?

      It is usual for SJW’s to scream xenophobia when faced with the truth but you are the first one I’ve seen use it when talking about the climate lol

      Are your feet getting wet yet ?

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsioIw4bvzI

    • avatar
      Ivan K

      Ok if you are not a xenophobe that means you don’t hate immigrants right? Is that true? You wouldn’t do anything or say anything to harm them? Also the water levels are rising so climate change is a real thing. It is usual for alt right to call people SJW when they don’t have anythig to say. SJW is just a meme, xenophobia is a word, you will find it in dictionaries. SJW can only be found in an urban dictionary and that is a joke.

    • avatar
      Martin

      Your point being? Are we gonna wait till the weather gets even more foul? Global temperature is a crucial variable for weather around the world and that temperature has recently reached its 100-years peak. Use of fossil fuels in human activities is extensively proven to be the cause for this increase, for reasons of the chemistry of each subproduct of combustion that reaches the open sky.

      Except it’s going down now. Could it be that it coincides to when hybrid technologies and electric engines in cars were finally accessible to the public? Hmmm…

      Well, if you want, you can wait till malaria reaches the UK, I’ll be doing something to stop it.

    • avatar
      Ivan

      Ivan K(< --Troll) Whatever you say comrade, whatever you say 8| By the way, if you really want to prove you are an real SJW you should really call me a Nazi & a misogynist as well lol https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFZXPz8u7kU

    • avatar
      Ivan

      Martin A simple question for you comrade:

      99.9% of all food grown, processed and packaged on planet Earth is totally dependent on the use of fossil fuel, do you have an alternative or will you just let billions of people die for your unproven theory of human created climate change ? As for your remark about ‘hybrid technologies and electric engines in cars’… its called human advancement & we have been doing it for thousands of years.

      https://news.sky.com/story/scientists-predict-mini-ice-age-could-hit-uk-by-2030-11186098

    • avatar
      Ivan K

      Pointless? For years you’ve been living in it and theresa may doesn’t sound so confident in Brexit. What does it even mean? UK has a lot of ties to the rest of Europe. And she signed a treaty which states that things will remain unchanged until UK leaves. That doesn’t sound so confident. Also if you leave then you are on your own. Russians assasinated an agent on your soil. Trump basicly declared war on EU and UK too. UK is not a British Empire nor will it be ever again. Those times are gone. Gilded age never existed as such nor it can be recreated as the gilded age fantasy requires. But you surely know all this.

    • avatar
      Uli

      you always provide the same two sources…investors.com and news.sky.com are how exactly a source you should cite here?

    • avatar
      Ivan

      Uli Czeranka Unlike the pseudo-science of climate change there is masses of data showing the lack of a threat of imminent world destruction but I’m not here to educate you. If you have any interest in truth you will go find it yourself.

  12. avatar
    RicardoFilipeP

    I don’t think that Europe is ready and although we need to better prepare ourselves, I think that we should put more effort on mitigating climate change

  13. avatar
    James

    Im wondering why europe who is so critical about america towards climate is not doing more to tackle air pollution?! The reality is that air quality in europe is much worse than america ( look at pm measurements). Perhaps population density is to blame as well as the climate but the result is that european air is much worse so perhaps europe should do a lot instead of criticizing others…

  14. avatar
    José

    Yes we are ready for it, but not for culture and values Change.

  15. avatar
    David

    As long as there are material resources to mitigate the effects, yes. But as the resources will become less and less over the years, there will be a lot of suffering.

  16. avatar
    Mircea

    No! Maybe is Germany. But also the measure for Climate Change have an economical resort. Strong Economies will gain more and more money.

    We have the same measures but a german people consume at least twice, almost triple, than Romanian or Bulgarian people.

    All this measures will means higher cost for energy ?!?!

    • avatar
      Ivan

      It’s called natural selection, the best able to adapt survive & those that can’t or won’t adapt go extinct. Nature really is brutal & there is nothing anyone can do about it, not even Brussels Gods.

  17. avatar
    Ivan

    The climate as changed every second of every day for the last 4.5 billion years, the current heatwave is nothing new & not the hottest and the sea levels are falling not rising so why do you think we can or should do anything about it ?

    • avatar
      Ivan

      Bódis – That is exactly right, 6,000 years ago the Sahara desert was a vast tropical forest with CO2 levels far higher than today, 10,000 years ago all Europe was under 5 miles of ice and lower CO2 levels than today and during the Jurassic Period it was 5-10 times higher than to day & life flourished on the planet, indeed without it there would be no human race. But are the pro climate change brigade claiming they were all man made too or that they were a bad thing ?

    • avatar
      Ivan

      Bódis That is exactly right, 6,000 years ago the Sahara desert was a vast tropical forest with CO2 levels far higher than today, 10,000 years ago all Europe was under 5 miles of ice and lower CO2 levels than today and during the Jurassic Period it was 5-10 times higher than to day & life flourished on the planet, indeed without it there would be no human race. But are the pro climate change brigade claiming they were all man made too or that they were a bad thing ?

  18. avatar
    Matthew

    Clearly not, since there seem to be very few facilities with proper insulation here in Belgium and public transit seems woefully unequipped for any temperatures over 20 Celsius.

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