Impacts of the climate crisis

Voices from across Europe | Aligning science and policy

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Scope and objectives

On Monday 22 November 2021, the Sustainable Development Observatory (SDO) of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) will hold a conference aimed at highlighting the urgency of climate change by listening to stories from across Europe and exploring ways of accelerating policy and climate action.

The event will bring together a wide selection of speakers, ranging from mayors, meteorologists, civil society and youth representatives to participants from EU and UN institutions and will feature testimonials, inspiring contributions and dynamic discussions on the impacts of the climate crisis.

At this public online event, we will:

  • Highlight the degree of urgency that climate change requires, by sharing stories of the impact it had on many parts of Europe, hence becoming a climate crisis;
  • Discuss how science can help policy makers to make informed decisions;
  • Look at recent international and EU policy developments, as well as future policy options towards the global objective of limiting global temperatures to 1.5°C;
  • Explore how civil society and the youth can help policy makers to achieve this goal and take advantage of the opportunities presented by change.

The conference will be webstreamed and interpretation will be provided into EN, FR, DE and PL.

External participants can contribute to the discussion by asking questions via Sli.do using the code: #ClimateImpacts.

Context

We have heard many times that climate change poses risks to humans, society, ecosystems and economic development. While we have talked until recently about the "potential" consequences of climate, we know now that the consequences of climate change are already real and not only in some far away countries and islands but also in Europe.

Drawing on the findings of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world’s leading authority on climate science, that were published in the context of the 6th assessment report in August this year, global temperatures were already 1.09°C higher than in pre-industrial times, with impacts like heatwaves, excess rainfall, wildfires, flooding and droughts.

In Europe, we have seen severe floods in Germany and Belgium that have killed hundreds this year. The summer of 2021 was the hottest on record in the continent, with average temperatures about 1°C above normal. A European temperature record of 48.8°C was set in Sicily, Italy in August. The elevated heat caused wildfires and premature deaths, specifically in Greece, Italy and Spain.

According to the IPCC "only rapid and drastic reductions in greenhouse gases in this decade can prevent a climate breakdown, with every fraction of a degree of further heating likely to compound the accelerating effects".

COP26 was seen as the make-or break-opportunity to put us back on track with the goal of not increasing global temperatures above 1.5°C. With the national pledges made during the first week of COP26, global warming could be limited to 1.9°C IF these pledges follow policies and appropriate actions.

With the adoption of the climate law, the EU has a set goal to become carbon neutral by 2050. The results of 2020 EEA report which tracks progress towards the EUs climate and energy goals, shows that this ambition is possible but will demand sustained and long-term efforts.

Do you have a question?
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