Climate adaptation activities at CEN and CENELEC 

In the past few weeks we experienced unusually warm and dry weather in Belgium, where we are located, causing health problems and exceptional water scarcity, affecting in turn agriculture in a negative way. This is one of the signs that the climate is changing.  Temperatures are getting warmer across Europe and extreme weather events can also be experienced.

In order to avoid serious risks related to changes in climate and in particular large-scale irreversible impacts, climate-change mitigation must remain a priority for the global community. It is a fact, however, that regardless how much we mitigate climate change, it will still increase in the coming years. Therefore Europe will have to take additional adaptation measures in order to deal with the unavoidable climate impact.

Adaptation means anticipating the adverse effects of climate change and taking appropriate actions for protecting human health, ecosystems as well as economic systems from the risks posed by climate variability and change on the one hand, and for exploiting beneficial opportunities provided by a changing climate on the other. Well- planned early adaptation actions can save money and lives.
A good example of an adaptation measure is the one that was taken in June this year in one of the regions of Belgium where restrictions were introduced in regards to the use of water for irrigation, swimming pools and car-washing. This was done in order to minimize the effects of climate change and to avoid the risk of not being able to supply drinking water due to the unusually low levels of water in the rivers and aquifers.

CEN and CENELEC already took action. The share of work of the standardization community in the climate-change adaptation is to ensure that the subjects of standardization are resilient to climate change. Currently, the infrastructure of the priority sectors (construction, transport and energy sectors) are the focus. The existing standards are being revised and new standards are drafted in order to reduce the vulnerability of the infrastructure to climate change. These standards will represent best-practice examples on how to address climate change adaptation in the area of standards in other sectors. The work of the standard-writers is supported by climate change experts and a specific Guide (Guide 32, pdf format) helping standard-writers addresses the consequences and implications of climate change in standards.

The work related to the adaptation to climate change in the field of the standardization will not only contribute to the implementation of the European climate adaptation strategy, but will at the same time, ensure that European standard-users are able to manage their climate risks.