Table of contents

4.2.2. EU adaptation strategy and related actions

European adaptation policy is driven by a mix of EU and national policy and strategies. The EU Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change was adopted in 2013 and forms the backbone of adaptation activity in the EU (EC, 2013b). The EU Adaptation Strategy also includes supporting documents, such as the Commission Staff Working Document on Adapting Infrastructure to Climate Change (EC, 2013a). This accompanying document includes a section specifically focused on the energy transmission and distribution grid.

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The EU Adaptation Strategy has just been evaluated, and the final reports have been published in November 2018 (EC, 2018u, 2018h, 2018i). This evaluation may lead to a revision of the Strategy in the future. The EU Strategy has three objectives and eight key actions (see Table 4‑3). Many of these Actions are relevant for adaptation in the energy sector.

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Table 4‑3: The objectives and actions of the EU Adaptation Strategy



1. Promoting action by Member States

1: Encourage all Member States to adopt comprehensive adaptation strategies

2: Provide LIFE funding to support capacity building and step up adaptation action in Europe

3: Introduce adaptation in the Covenant of Mayors framework

2. Promoting better informed decision-making

4: Bridge the knowledge gap

5: Further develop Climate-ADAPT as the ‘one-stop shop’ for adaptation information in Europe

3. Promoting adaptation in key vulnerable sectors

6: Facilitate the climate-proofing of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the Cohesion Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP)

7: Ensuring more resilient infrastructure

8: Promote insurance and other financial products for resilient investment and business decisions.

Source: Adapted from (EC, 2013b).

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Action 1 of the EU Adaptation Strategy concerns the adoption of comprehensive adaptation strategies by all Member States. The EC has provided guidelines to support Member States in formulating their adaptation strategies. The EC has also developed an ‘adaptation preparedness scoreboard’ with key indicators measuring Member State readiness levels, which was applied in the recent evaluation of the EU Adaptation Strategy (EC, 2018h, 2018i, Annex IX).

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Action 3 addresses the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy. Initially, mitigation and adaptation were dealt by separate initiatives. However, the Covenant of Mayors (focussing on mitigation) and the with the Mayors Adapt initiative were merged in 2015. Post-2015 signatories to the Covenant of Mayors must prepare Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plans (SECAPs) that address both climate change mitigation and adaptation. These action plans clearly identify goals and targets, assign roles and also provide for vulnerability assessments and monitoring reports (Covenant of Mayors Office, 2015). By April 2018, 1 076 Covenant signatories from 25 EU Member States, covering around 60 million inhabitants, had committed to conduct vulnerability and risk assessments, and to develop, implement and report on adaptation plans. Across the EU, around 40 % of cities with more than 150 000 inhabitants are estimated to have adopted adaptation plans to protect Europeans from climate impacts (EC, 2018u; Reckien et al., 2018). There is no systematic information available to what extent cities are addressing energy in their adaptation plans.

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Action 4 addresses EU research funding and how this is targeted. It has sought to better identify the adaptation knowledge gaps and then to adjust the programming of EU research funding, especially Horizon 2020, to address these gaps. It has also promoted EU-wide vulnerability assessments through the JRC. Ultimately, this action is expected to improve adaptation actions, including in the energy system. The EC has recently published a policy booklet presenting a selection of its research, science and innovation projects on climate change adaptation (EC, 2018e). Further details on this topic with a focus on the energy system are provided in Section 4.2.3.

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Action 5 focusses on the development of Climate-ADAPT[1], a knowledge platform that organises key adaptation-relevant information and best practise examples (EEA and EC, 2018). Information on Climate-ADAPT is relevant for the energy sector as well. The case studies presented briefly in Section 4.5.2 of this report are all published in more detail on Climate-ADAPT.

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Action 6 includes the major structural funds in the EU, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Cohesion Fund (CF). Mainstreaming of climate change considerations can have relevant impacts on these projects, including those linked to the energy sector. Within such funding, major projects must integrate climate change adaptation considerations throughout the preparatory and implementation stages. The guidelines for the individual programmes focus on the methodological approach to vulnerability and risk assessment for major projects, something which is also relevant for energy sector infrastructure. Between 2014 and 2020, six major projects were commissioned within the Energy theme (EC, 2018i). A DG CLIMA report on Climate Change and Major Projects outlines climate change-related requirements and guidance for major projects in the 2014-2020 programming period, with relevance for the energy sector (EC, 2016a). The EC has also developed guidelines for investors, including for the development of energy projects, with a focus on ‘making vulnerable investments climate resilient’ (EC, 2011c).

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Action 7 is based on the development of technical standards, strategic guidelines and green infrastructure and targeted to the energy, transport and buildings sectors. The European standardisation organisations CEN-CENELEC have an EU mandate to review existing standards. The CEN-CENELEC Adaptation to Climate Change Co-ordination Group coordinates work associated with the standardisation request on adaptation to climate change. The latest work programme refers to 13 high-priority standards that need to be developed or revised in the context of climate change adaptation in priority sectors, including energy (CEN-CENELEC, 2018b). For more information, see Section 4.4.3.

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Action 8 has seen some progress in the insurance and broader financial sector. Insurance (and re-insurance) is important for dealing with climate-related damage when it occurs and for the economic value of such risk. Moreover, institutional investors such as insurers may finance investments in the energy sector. Institutional investors typically focus on re-financing, acquisitions and secondary market activities, essentially taking on established projects from project developers (IRENA, 2018a). They have an important interest in ensuring that the investments they acquire are climate-resilient. Action 8 resulted also in setting up a high-level expert group (HLEG) on Sustainable Finance (with EEA participation) whose findings are at the heart of a new EU Strategy on Sustainable Finance (EC, 2018q). The focus of these activities is on climate change mitigation and fossil fuel divestment, but they are also relevant for adaptation and resilience.

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