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Adapting to Climate Change in Europe and Central Asia

Summary

The climate is changing, and the Europe and Central Asia (ECA) region is vulnerable. It is vulnerable because many countries of the region are exposed to the consequences of a changing climate: warmer temperatures, a changing hydrology and more extremes—droughts, floods, heatwaves, but also windstorms and forest fires. Already the frequency and cost of natural disasters have increased dramatically in the region. And the concentration of greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere guarantees that changes at least as large as what has happened are in store for the future—even if the world completely stopped emitting CO2...
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1. A Framework For Developing Adaptation Plans

Overall increases of 1.6 to 2.6ºC are expected in ECA by 2050 regardless of what mitigation efforts are undertaken (see chapter 2). And under business-as-usual scenario, worldwide projections suggest a median likely warming of 5oC (Sokolov et al. 2009). These are enormous shifts, unlike anything the world has seen for more than 800,000 years. In fact, the difference between our world and the last ice age is only 6 to 7 oC. The implications on ecological and human systems are serious even with 2ºC relatively low temperature increases (Smith et al., 2009)
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2. How ECA'S Climate Has Changed And Is Likely To Change Further

The climate is changing. Indeed, there is now consensus that the world overall is becoming a warmer, wetter place, and one where the frequency and magnitude of extreme events is increasing. In the words of the IPCC's Fourth Assessment report: "Warming of the climate system is unequivocal"(IPCC 2007b)
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3. Human Health: The Most Basic Vulnerability

Countries of all income levels are vulnerable to natural forces, as was amply demonstrated by Hurricane Katrina in the U.S. in 2005 and by the 2003 European heatwave. When extreme weather destabilizes the balance between natural and human systems, what follows is an accelerated breakdown of protective structures and institutions, particularly those that are already weak or stressed, eventually threatening human lives and wellbeing.
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4. Climate Change Will Make Water and Land Management More Complex
Physical impacts are likely to vary depending on whether climate change manifests itself through slow changes in averages, through more frequent extreme events, or through sudden catastrophic changes (such as a collapse in the North Atlantic current or a collapse of the Greenland or Antarctic ice sheet). This is because slowly occurring changes are manageable for most human managed systems (though not always for ecological ones). Extremes are, of course, much harder to cope with and are more likely to impose irreversible damages.
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5. The Unbuilt Environment: Agriculture and Forestry
For ECA’s productive environment—farms, commercially exploited forests, and fisheries—climate change is already happening. Moldova’s drought-stricken agricultural sector and Central Europe’s forest fires during the 2003 heatwave provide a harbinger of the challenges the farming and forestry sectors will face over the coming years (Fink et al. 2004).
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6. The Built Environment: Cities, Transport, Water Systems, and Energy
The built environment of the former East Bloc is acutely vulnerable to physical changes resulting from projected increases in climate variability and extremes. Floods are an obvious threat in many cities. Storm surges in the Black Sea and elsewhere are affecting coastal infrastructure. Projected warming trends and changes in precipitation patterns have the potential to impact the entire energy chain—from production, through transmission and distribution, to end use. With the likelihood of many more extreme events—flooding and droughts—water quality would be profoundly affected.
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7. Protection and Preparation: Disaster Risk Management and Weather Forecasting
Over the past 30 years, natural disasters have cost ECA countries about $70 billion in economic losses. Most of the damage has occurred in Armenia, Romania, Poland, Russia and Turkey. Meanwhile, climate change scenarios project more frequent weather extremes, including increased flooding, heatwaves and drought, which will cause even greater losses. Changing trends and nonlinear tipping point impacts (such as polar ice sheet collapse) can also occasion abrupt disasters.
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Data and Figures
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Climate change video Albania in Albanian

Climate change video Albania in English

Background Papers
Albania

Climate Change Vulnerability, Risk, and Adaptation Assessment of Albania's Energy Sector Helping Countries Prepare an Effective Energy Sector Response[314KB]

Climate Vulnerability Assessments An Assessment of Climate Change Vulnerability, Risk, and Adaptation in Albania's Energy Sector [3.5 MB]
Vlerësime mbi vulnerabilitetin ndaj klimës Vlerësimi mbi vulnerabilitetin, rrezikun dhe adoptimin e sektorit shqiptar të energjisë ndaj ndryshimeve klimatiker [2.9 MB]