Climate change adaptation  

The consequences of climate change are increasingly being felt in Europe and worldwide. In particular, the magnitude of extreme weather events has increased, with more frequent heat waves, forest fires and droughts, heavier precipitation and an increased risk of flooding and erosion. Despite ongoing attempts to limit the extent of climate change through mitigation efforts, the impacts of climate change are expected to grow more severe in the coming decades. Adaptation measures are therefore necessary to deal with the unavoidable impacts.

The role of standardization

In 2013 the European Commission adopted an EU Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change (COM(2013) 216 final) in which invites also European Standardization Organizations to contribute to the European efforts aiming to make Europe more climate-resilient. The strategy highlights the key role of standards in securing the climate resilience.

In 2014 CEN and CENELEC established the Adaptation to Climate Change Coordination Group (ACC-CG) to coordinate standardization activities and to foster collaboration in standardization work in the field of adaptation to climate change.  ACC CG is also responsible for coordinating the delivery the European Commission standardization request in support of the EU strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change (M/526). 

The ACC-CG is currently focusing on building and maintaining a more climate resilient infrastructure throughout the EU in the three priority sectors identified in the EU Strategy:  transport infrastructure, energy infrastructure and buildings / construction.  Climate change resilience in these sectors could be improved by the revision of existing standards or development of new standards, specifications or guidance.

Read about the importance of adapting Technical Standard to climate change impacts (pdf format).

You can find more information on the European efforts to adapt climate change on the website of the European Commission's Climate Action Directorate General.

CEN-CENELEC Coordination Group ‘Adaptation to Climate Change’ (ACC-CG)

Download the 'Terms of Reference' of ACC-CG (pdf format)


The next ACC-CG plenary meeting will take place on 13 February 2019 at the CEN and CENELEC Meeting Centre in Brussels. (Note: due to the expected general strikes in Belgium on that day, the attendance via the web will also be possible).


Three workshops were organized to have an exchange with the experts from the specific sectors on the related climate challenges are the standardization needs necessary to adapt to the unavoidable impacts:

The associated ICT is also considered for all sectors.

Identifying the relevant standards

A long list of standards was developed as an outcome of a questionnaire sent to Technical Committees, the sectorial workshops and a series of interviews with experts and stakeholders. The Technical Committees are asked to check the relevance of the list and apply the established prioritization criteria. The exercise resulted in a priority list of standards that contain a 13 standards for the three priority sectors. 

Development of standards to improve the resilience

As from 2017 the focus has been on the revision and development of the identified standards aiming to improve the resilience of European infrastructure in the priority sectors to the adverse effects of climate change. These revised and new priority standards will represent best practice examples on how to address climate change adaptation aspects in standards.  

The work will also cover the development of a tailored guidance for the Technical Committees. The guidance will provide information on the availability and use of climate data, including recommendations for dealing with uncertainty, as well as approaches for vulnerability assessment and adaptation based on the best practices and experience gained during the project.  

CEN-CENELEC Guide 32  'Guide for addressing climate change adaptation in standards'

CEN and CENELEC have developed and published a 'Guide for addressing climate change adaptation in standards'. This new Guide is intended to help standard writers address the consequences and implications of climate change. It includes a simple checklist to help establish whether climate change adaptation is relevant to a particular standardization activity and a decision tree to help identify which actions should be taken.

On 20 October 2016 a webinar was organized to explain standard writers the importance of the use of the CEN CENELEC Guide 32 addressing climate change adaptation in standards. The invited speakers were the convenor of the project team in charge of the development of the guide and the European Commission DG Climate Action representative.

The webinar helped participants understanding why it is important to address climate change adaptation in European standardization. You can read the presentation that guides you through all sections of the guide, explaining how to apply it systematically during the development and revision of standards in your sector.

CEN and CENELEC contact person: Andrea Nam