The consequences of climate change are increasingly being felt. In particular, Europe faces more extreme weather events: heat waves, forest fires and droughts, heavier precipitation and an increased risk of flooding and erosion. Despite mitigation efforts, the impacts of climate change will further grow in the coming decades. Adaptation measures are therefore necessary to deal with the unavoidable impacts.
The role of standardization
The EU Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change (COM(2013) 216 final) invites 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 strengthening climate resilience. As part of the European Green Deal, the European Commission aims to put forward a new Adaptation Strategy in early 2021.
One of the priority areas in the EU Strategy is the resilience of key infrastructures to the changing climate. From this perspective, the EU standardization request in support of the EU strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change (M/526) is directed at including climate change adaptation in standards for infrastructures in the most vulnerable sectors: construction, transport and energy. Background is the essential role standards play in establishing the design, building and maintenance of infrastructures.
CEN-CENELEC Coordination Group ‘Adaptation to Climate Change’ (ACC-CG)
The CEN-CENELEC Adaptation to Climate Change Coordination Group (ACC-CG) coordinates standardization activities and guides the implementation of the standardization request (mandate) on Adaptation to Climate Change (M/526).
The ACC-CG is currently supporting TCs in revising a number of European infrastructure standards. In parallel, guidance tools have been developed which support standard writers in including climate change adaptation (CCA) in standards in a systematic way.
The ACC-CG focuses on the following activities:
- Revision or development of standards for infrastructures in vulnerable sectors
10 CEN and CENELEC TCs are working on the revision or development of the selected priority standards. The selected standards relate to buildings, transport and energy infrastructures. These new and revised standards will represent best practice examples on how to address climate change adaptation in standards.
- Linking standards for infrastructures to future climatic conditions;
Information on future climatic conditions is of critical importance in order to address CCA in standards. Knowledge in this field is developing fast, but it appears that this is often hard to interpret and use. The aim of this activity is to prepare a Technical Report (that may be converted later into a standard) that provides guidance for systematic use of the climate-related information.
- Scaling adaptation measures to the European level;
Physical adaptation measures can be used to prevent or mitigate some of the adverse effects of climate change, such as the impacts of extreme weather events. This activity focuses on identifying where European standards can help the market uptake of the adaptation measures. Examples are permeable pavements, cool (reflective) materials, or nature-based solutions such as swales and green roofs.
- Addressing climate change adaptation in other standards for infrastructures;
This activity is directed at infrastructural standards in other sectors that are vulnerable to climate change and are not yet part of the current set of standards in revision or development.
More detailed information of the activities of the ACC CG here.
Guidance to standard writers
CEN-CENELEC have prepared two guides aiming to support standard writers in taking up CCA in standards.
CEN-CENELEC Guide 32 provides guidance to a wide range of standard writers on addressing 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.
The tailored guidance document for inclusion of CCA in standards for infrastructures provides information on the availability and use of climate data, dealing with uncertainty, and approaches for vulnerability assessment, based on the best practices and experiences gained so far by the ACC CG.
Useful information on the European climate policies and initiatives:
CEN and CENELEC contact person: Andrea NAM