IMPETUS at ECCA 2023: Exploring Climate Resilience Tools with sister projects

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The 6th European Climate Change Adaptation conference (ECCA 2023) is set to be a remarkable event that brings together experts, practitioners, and policymakers to discuss climate resilience strategies and share innovative tools. With a focus on actionable knowledge, this in-person conference will feature interactive sessions, plenaries, and live streaming for wider participation. IMPETUS will be participating with a video in the cinema room and representation in a joint session with sister EU Climate Adaptation Mission projects REGILIENCE, ARSINOE, TransformAr, REACHOUT and Pathways2Resilience.

This year’s edition of ECCA will cover several thematic areas, including stepping up climate action, adaptation responses to sea level rise and coastal change, nature-based solutions, preparing for climate extremes, reframing societal transformation, and climate resilience of future energy infrastructure and systems. It offers a unique opportunity to explore cutting-edge tools and decision-support platforms that facilitate climate adaptation efforts.

The joint session dedicated to climate resilience tools has been organised by the EU Climate Adaptation Mission projects. It will delve into the practical aspects of utilising tools and approaches for climate resilience. The session brings together renowned experts and practitioners to explore innovative ways of strengthening climate resilience at regional and global scales. The session ‘Extreme Events: Tools for Climate Resilience‘ takes place on Tuesday 20 June in the Printworks Plenary room between 11.30 – 13.10 CEST. The session will be opened by Ad Jeuken from REACHOUT. Philippe Tulkens, Deputy Mission Manager of the EU Mission on Adaptation to Climate Change will provide reflections on the value of tools for the EU Adaptation Mission. There will also be three informative ‘pitches’:

  • How to enable the uptake of tools and approaches for climate resilience? Overview of barriers and enablers.
  • Does Transformational adaptation require a transformation in climate services and tools? Practical examples of applications of climate services in 7 cities.
  • How can tools to strengthen climate resilience be made accessible to the regions? Where do we go from here?

The audience will be polled and a panel discussion will reflect on the audience’s answers, allowing for further exploration and exchange of ideas. Panel members will include Jan Cools (University of Antwerp & TransformAr), Nieves Peña (Tecnalia & REACHOUT), Thomas Koetz (Climate-KIC & Pathways2Resilience) and Guido Schmidt (Fresh Thoughts Consulting GmbH & REGILIENCE).

All the project’s representatives will also be available to discussing the tools and other kind of information in the ‘Piazza’ on Wednesday afternoon.

The Technical Coordinator of IMPETUS, Josep Pijuan Parra of Eurecat, will provide remote contributions to the discussion and Piazza sessions, to highlight tools and activities being developed in the project. The IMPETUS video ‘Preparing for Floods: Adapting the Netherlands for Climate Resilience‘ will be screened in the conference cinema room at various times throughout the event.

About ECCA2023

Organised by the Joint Programme Initiative ‘Connecting Climate Knowledge for Europe’ (JPI Climate) and supported by the MAGICA project and the European Commission, ECCA2023 will take place in Dublin, Ireland, on 19-21 June 2023.

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High temperatures

Record-breaking summertime temperatures have been recorded in the Netherlands in recent years. With global temperatures rising, such extreme weather events will occur more often, and for longer periods. Prolonged high temperatures, with warm nights as well as hot days, can cause heat stress* and related health issues, particularly among city populations.

*Heat stress occurs when the human body cannot get rid of excess heat and can impact wellbeing through conditions such as heat stroke, exhaustion, cramps and rashes.

"We want to enable municipality decision makers who are working on spatial developments to identify heat stress 'hot spots' and cool areas, analyse the future effects of climate change, and model the effect of different heat stress-reducing measures. The tool must provide them with an easy starting point to integrate heat stress risks in their projects."

Issue

Despite the cooling effect of the sea in the region of Zeeland, the growing risk of heat stress has become a concern.

Elderly and other vulnerable people are more impacted by the effects of prolonged heat, which can cause headaches, dizziness, insomnia and other health issues – even death. Excess temperatures also affect general comfort and liveability of cities. Water quality can be reduced, both for drinking and swimming, and infrastructure can be affected. Buildings and concrete surfaces trap heat, potentially leading to damage, and release it during the night, keeping temperatures warm.

During heat waves, it is important that everyone has access to a cool and comfortable place. Appropriate spatial planning can help to decrease and deal with heat stress. Environmental factors like water bodies, trees, and shade have a major impact on stress caused by high temperatures. Therefore, planting trees, removing concrete surfaces, creating green roofs and cool spaces can improve our comfort and health. The IMPETUS Atlantic team is developing a digital tool to support regional decision making for city planning to address these needs.

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Flood risk

By 2050, sea-level within this region is predicted to rise by 15-40 cm, with more frequent extreme weather and more (severe) storms triggered by climate change. These changes will exacerbate the natural risk of flooding in the IMPETUS ‘Atlantic’ region, because it is surrounded by rivers and the sea, and is below sea level.

*Risk takes into account two aspects; the chance that an event will occur and the negative impact of such an event once it occurs. When there is a low chance that an event will occur, but its impacts are huge, the risk is still significant.

“In the Netherlands, an extensive system of dikes protects us against sea and river flooding. We have always put our faith in this defence and focused almost solely on flood prevention. However, pressure on our system will increase with climate change and rising sea levels. To adapt and maintain a safe living environment, we should develop other safety measures, like more robust spatial planning and contingency plans."

Issue

Rotterdam city, is located in Rijnmond – ‘mouth of the Rhine’. The Rhine river flows through this densely populated area and characterises the region. Protections such as sea dikes and storm surge barriers have been constructed to protect the region, but flooding still occurs.

People living in the city are accustomed to seeing smaller floods. The changing climate affects the interplay between rainfall, river levels and sea storms, increasing the flooding risk. Water levels could rise by a few metres, even in populated areas, with potentially massive impacts. 

Mitigation measures such as storm surge barriers reduce the chance that high water reaches the city, but to minimise the impact of floods when they do occur, adaptation strategies are also needed. A city that can adapt to be safe from floods must be carefully designed. How best to design such an adaptive city?

Critical infrastructure, such as hospitals and evacuation routes, must be accessible at all times. Planning how to best protect them, homes and lives is complex. Flood water behaves in a complex way and flood risks show strong spatial variations. The IMPETUS Atlantic team is developing a digital tool to support regional decision making for adaptive city planning. 

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Energy and waste water

To become climate-neutral by 2050, climate mitigation* efforts are crucial in our strategy for how to deal with climate change. Reducing our energy consumption is a significant mitigation step. In the Netherlands, 15% of energy is consumed in the Rijnmond area around the port of Rotterdam, in large part by a major petrochemical industry cluster.

*Climate mitigation encompasses measures such as technologies, processes, or practices that reduce carbon emissions or enhance the sinks of greenhouse gases.

Issue

The Rotterdam port petrochemical industry cluster is Europe’s largest. It consumes 70% of the Rijnmond region’s energy. A large part of this energy is wasted (64%, 203 petajoules). More than half of that energy is lost with wastewater. In addition, most energy processes within these industries rely on fossil fuels, which has a significant impact on the climate.

Energy use must be minimised and fossil fuels should be replaced by renewable sources if climate change is to be mitigated. Electrification of processes opens up the possibility to use more renewable energy and can greatly impact decarbonisation. Recovering wasted heat would significantly reduce energy consumption and is a first step towards a more circular industry. 

Supporting industries in a transition towards climate-neutrality depends on identifying how best to reduce their carbon footprint without sacrificing production or performance. The IMPETUS Atlantic team is creating a digital tool that supports decision making about pathways towards an effective energy transition for EU industry.