One of the European Commission’s goals is to continue to explore the impacts of climate change and to determine effective responses that can be taken to lessen both present and future impacts. The European Commission is currently partnered with the Joint Programming Initiative on Climate Change, the Copernicus Climate Change Service, the Global Framework for Climate Services and numerous other organizations as a means to analyze scientific, technical, environmental, economic and social aspects of the vulnerability to climate change. Moreover, through its Horizon 2020 initiative, the EU has allocated 80 billion euros of funding between 2014-2020 towards driving economic growth and performing research that will ensure that economic growth and job creation aligns with its goal for a more sustainable future. Therefore, research in the EU is ongoing and being performed by a plethora of organizations, which will allow for the emergence of a diverse array of findings that promise to bolster the EU’s commitment to remedying the issues posed by climate change.
One specific organization that has made strides in climate change research in conjunction with the EU is the Joint Research Centre. The Joint Research Centre is comprised of scientists funded by the European Commission and its mission is to perform independent research that helps inform EU policy. A pertinent study that the Centre performed in 2020 pertaining to climate change mitigation is the PESETA IV Study. In the Centre’s PESETA IV study, a group of scientists performed research that assessed sectoral climate change harm that will occur in the future if mitigation policies are undertaken (there is a global rise in temperature of 1.5°C to 2°C) compared to the harm that will occur if no mitigation policies are undertaken (there is a global rise in temperature of 3°C). They used a multi-sector, multi-country computable general equilibrium model (Climate assessment General Equilibrium, CaGE model) in order to integrate various climate impact channels and model the results of these impacts. The study yielded a variety of detailed findings that suggest that, without climate change mitigation policies, the ecosystem, the economy and humans in Europe will be negatively impacted. Examples of these negative impacts include wildlife and pest outbreaks becoming more frequent, which would cause severe biomass loss and carbon release, 300 million citizens in the EU and UK being exposed to deadly heatwaves each year, water resource availability dropping by 40% in southern regions of Europe and many other undesirable outcomes. Additionally, the study found that climate change would impact Southern Europe more than it would Northern Europe due to Southern Europe’s more restricted access to water supplies and the ways in which unmitigated climate change would further exacerbate their inability to access water. Heatwaves would occur more frequently in Southern Europe; hydro and nuclear power would be reduced and there would be a greater rise in fire danger.
However, the study found that if the EU follows mitigation policies that ensure that Paris Agreement targets are reached, these climate impacts will be significantly reduced. If mitigation policies continue to be put in place and enforced, the number of people exposed to deadly heatwaves would be reduced by 200 million, the drop-in water resource availability in Southern Europe would be halved and annual drought losses would be reduced by 20 billion euros a year. The study also showed that climate change adaptation policies will be cost-efficient and the Joint Research Centre provides suggestions to European policymakers that include reducing flood peaks by installing retention reservoirs and strengthening protection along coastlines of populated and economically pivotal areas.
Since this research was recently undertaken with the aim of informing European policymakers about potential climate change threats, ideally these findings, as well as the findings of other researchers, will highlight the importance of climate change mitigation to policymakers and adequate policies will be enacted that allow for the goals of the Paris Agreement to be met.
Activity Rating: *** Right Direction
The EU’s focus on funding climate change research and its collaboration with a variety of research organizations shows the EU’s recognition of the importance of climate change mitigation and determining how to best ensure this mitigation. Research organizations such as the Joint Research Centre have effectively modeled the unfavorable results that could occur if policies to reduce the global temperature rise are not enacted and have proposed feasible suggestions of ways in which climate change harm can be reduced. The proper foundation is in place for policy change to occur, and now it is in the hands of policymakers to enact and enforce these proposed changes.
Dear Mr. Stephen Quest
Director of Joint Research Centre,
Climate Scorecard would like to commend the Joint Research Centre for the thorough and illuminating research conducted in the PESETA IV study regarding the potential harm that unmitigated climate change could incur. We appreciate the suggestions put forth by the Centre and hope that policymakers take heed of the Centre’s suggestions.
With respectful and best regards,
Joint Research Centre
Rue du Champ de Mars 21
“Climate Action.” Climate Action | Environment – Research and Innovation – European Commission, 9 Jan. 2017, ec.europa.eu/research/environment/index.cfm?pg=climate.
Feyen, Luc, et al. Joint Research Center, 2020, Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation in Europe, publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/bitstream/JRC119178/peseta_iv_summary_final_report.pdf.
Kugleta. “What Is Horizon 2020?” Horizon 2020 – European Commission, 15 Mar. 2017, ec.europa.eu/programmes/horizon2020/what-horizon-2020.
Image Courtesy of: https://www.farmertronics.com/geen-onderdeel-van-een-categorie/eu-research-shows-need-for-action-now-on-climate-change/
Post submitted by EU Country Manager Brittany Damogenes