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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Adapting to Climate Change in Europe and Central Asia

The World Bank has released a study on adaptation in Europe and Central Asia (ECA). The report provides an overview of vulnerability and adaptation concepts and assessment frameworks and reviews the potential climate changes for the region and their implications. In addition, the report provides a range of plausible adaptation options for different sectors in response to different climatic hazards. The report's Executive Summary identifies four key messages:

  1. "Contrary to popular perception, ECA faces a substantial threat from climate change, with a number of the most serious risks already in evidence. Average temperatures across ECA have already increased by 0.5ºC in the south to 1.6ºC in the north (Siberia), and overall increases of 1.6 to 2.6ºC are expected by the middle of the century regardless of what mitigation efforts are undertaken. This is affecting hydrology, with a rapid melting of the region’s glaciers and a decrease in winter snows. Many countries are already suffering from winter floods and summer droughts—with both Southeastern Europe and Central Asia at risk for severe water shortages. Summer heat waves are expected to claim more lives than will be saved by warmer winters.
  2. Vulnerability over the next ten to twenty years will be dominated by socio‐economic factors and legacy issues—notably the dire environmental situation and the poor state of infrastructure—rather than by the changing climate itself.
  3. Even countries and sectors that stand to benefit from climate change are poorly positioned to do so. Many have claimed that warmer climate and abundant precipitation in the northeastern part of ECA (Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine) will open up a new agricultural frontier. However, the region’s currently low agricultural performance, with efficiency and productivity levels far below those of western Europe, does not augur well for its capacity to seize new opportunities.
  4. The next decade offers a window for ECA countries to make their development more resilient to climate change while reaping numerous co‐benefits. While some impacts of climate change are already being felt, they will likely remain manageable over the next decade, thereby offering the ECA region a short period of time to increase its resilience by focusing on actions that have numerous co‐benefits."

Background papers for the report are available here

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