How the EU can address extreme weather

Today I hosted a briefing in conjunction with The Royal Society and the European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC) for Parliament and Commission representatives on the impact of extreme weather and how it can affect people’s lives.

The Royal Society is the UK’s National Academy of Science and is a member of the EASAC. The EASAC is an organisation formed by the national science academies of the EU Member States with an aim of providing independent science advice to European policy makers, enabling the collective voice of European Science to be heard.

This morning’s briefing sought to highlight the need to increase global resilience to extreme weather and how changes in weather patterns can affect people’s lives. It was about bringing the scientific evidence of changes and their likely impacts to the attention of European policymaker and making the case for change.

Among the papers discussed today was the Royal Society’s own paper Resilience to Extreme Weather published last November, which focused on how to increase global resilience to extreme weather. The report also looked at possible impacts of extreme weather conditions in the future.

Today’s meeting aimed at highlighting these issues to European policymakers and suggesting actions which can be taken to alleviate these problems.

As policymakers we looked at the role Europe can play in encouraging global action to reduce the impact of extreme weather and how to influence international negotiations on climate change. While we need to take collective action to tackle these problems we also need to ensure that national governments do their part as well. To this end, a copy of the European Environment Agency 2014 Report on National adaptation policy processes in European countries was circulated to attendees.

Changes in weather patterns will be one of the principle effects of climate change and with these will come extreme weather – such as flooding and heat waves, which have a huge human cost.

With climate change being one of the top five priorities of the EU’s growth strategy, Europe 2020, we as EU policymakers need to be looking seriously at the work that we can do in this area.

We have a collective responsibility to take action at European level – we will not solve this coming weather crisis at national state level. Cooperation is essential.