3E Intelligence

After the presentation of its Green Paper on 29 June, the European Commission organised a stakeholder conference on the issue of climate change adaptation on 3 July. The conference highlighted the input of different directorate-generals into the Green paper but lacked a horizontal view of the subject in terms of sustainable development. It says something about the EU’s technocratic take on the issue that speakers from DG environment, regio, research and development could give their view but that there was no speaker from the sustainable development team in the General Secretariat to put the different views in a broader policy context.

The Adaptation Green Paper tries to give a false sense of security. What it is basically saying is that the EU and its member states can put in place the “adaptive mechanisms” to deal with the negative effects of climate change. I wonder what crisis management the EU or the UK can come up with in case of London being totally flooded. The only solution there is what James Lovelock recently recommended to new Prime Minister Gordon Brown: move the city. What I get from the Green Paper, is that the EU still does not fully grasp the coming realities of climate change.

Having said that, two presentations stood out for me in the conference. First of all, a scientific summary of the latest IPCC report by Professor Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, who painted a darker picture than usually attributed to the IPCC. According to van Ypersele, the likely range of temperature increases is between 1.8 and 7.3 degrees Celsius, much higher than the generally reported 1.2 to 4° increase.

The other remarkable presentation came from Jacqueline McGlade, the director of the European Environment Agency. She was the only one who connected the climate change adaptation issue to the sustainability agenda underlining the need to develop a “circular economy” where products are developed “from cradle to cradle” instead of from “cradle to grave”.

The price for the worst metaphor of the conference goes to agriculture commissioner Fischer Boel. The Danish commissioner refered to the rainy weather in Brussels and how she “adapted” by bringing her umbrella. “Time to put up the umbrella” to deal with climate change, said Fischer Boel. If it were just that easy, dear commissioner 🙂

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