EU Ministers to Discuss Funding Climate Change Adaptation, Water

European Union ministers will discuss water management and financing of adaptation to climate change, whose costs to the region are estimated at 20 billion euros ($25 billion) in 2020, at an informal meeting this weekend.

Environment ministers from the bloc’s 27 governments will hold talks on a planned policy paper on safeguarding water resources tomorrow, according to a draft agenda of the meeting hosted by Cyprus.

The second day of the meeting in Nicosia will be devoted to the use of private and EU funds to adjust infrastructure and minimize threats from global warming to human health and ecosystems. The agenda features the presidency priorities in the area of climate change and doesn’t include any discussion on EU carbon-reduction goals beyond 2020 or the bloc’s carbon market after talks on those issues stalled earlier this year.

“The specific characteristics of some adaptation measures, such as their trans-boundary nature, are requiring good coordination across borders, and their reliance on environmental services, by definition difficult to value, make access to finance more difficult,” the Cypriot government wrote in a background paper for the meeting.

“Finding adequate sources of financing is therefore crucial in order to stimulate investments in adaptation action,” according to the document, published on the EU presidency website.

Ministers don’t take formal decisions at such meetings, which are organized twice a year by countries that hold the EU six-month rotating presidency. Cyprus took over the presidency at the beginning of this month

The EU wants to lead the global fight against climate change. The bloc is on track to meet its binding goal of lowering carbon-dioxide discharges by 20 percent by 2020 and has repeatedly said it’s ready to tighten it if other countries, such as the U.S. and China, follow suit.

At the last round of international climate talks the EU won support for its road map for a global deal to be adopted by 2015 and enter into force before 2020. Scientists have urged deeper emission-reduction targets by governments worldwide to contain the rise in temperatures to 2 degree Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times and avoid more heat waves, flooding and intense storms.

Adaptation to climate change is a “must” to help Europe achieve its policy objectives, including the creation of green jobs and sustainable growth, Cyprus said.

“While mitigation is absolutely necessary to limit the impacts of climate change to a manageable degree, even the most ambitious emission reductions pathways, in line with the 2 degrees Celsius target, would not lead to any reduction in temperature increases before the 2040s to 2050s below the business-as-usual scenarios,” it wrote in the background paper.

The U.S., with about 313 million people compared with Europe Union’s 501 million population, is the largest water consumer in the world, water and wastewater treatment being at least a $113 billion annual market, according to international agency estimates. The United Nations says about 800 million people worldwide don’t have safe drinking water and 2.7 billion in a world now with 7 billion people lack access to sanitation.

Climate models show parts of Spain and Italy, with large agricultural operations, growing drier and drought situations becoming more common in the coming decades.

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