Usually, the EU’s policy on global warming tends to focus on mitigation: the 20/20/20 Climate and Energy Package is the obvious recent example. But this week the European Commission approved two reports on natural and man-made disasters that give some thought to the flip side of climate policy: adaptation.

natural disasters are on the rise.

Turbulence ahead: natural disasters are on the rise. (Image: cnystrom @ Flickr)

One of the documents focuses on reducing the risks from disasters in the developing world, and is tied to the EU’s development aid strategy. The other focuses on preventing disasters within Europe’s borders.

According to the Commission’s communications, there was a marked increase in the frequency and severity of natural disasters in Europe and the wider world over the last two or three decades. It’s impossible to attribute the cause of individual extreme events to global warming. But climate change is likely to mean that this trend for more high-impact weather events will continue during the rest of the twenty-first century.

The documents highlight key areas where the EU could develop its strategy for preventing and managing disasters. The report on disaster prevention in Europe recommends better-developed information-gathering and knowledge sharing, better institutional links between key institutions, and improving the use of the current funding and resources dedicated to climate change. In its work with developing countries, the recommendations are for stronger dialogue between the EU and those countries that it assists, integration of disaster risk reduction into development plans, and developing regional risk-management plans.

Neither document contains a fully-fledged policy: they are at this stage discussion papers that will pave the way for further negotiation before the EU adopts strategies for managing natural disasters in Europe and elsewhere.

But it reflects the fact that, while adaptation doesn’t feature highly on Europe’s climate change agenda, neither is it entirely absent.

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