Time to turn climate commitments into action: IMPETUS begins

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The impacts of climate change are being felt here and now. From floods in Germany to wildfires in Greece and Turkey; water shortages in Northern Europe and even heatwaves in Siberia. Intensifying weather events threaten our way of life, with severe impacts on people’s health, livelihoods and assets. 

To help accelerate Europe’s climate adaptation strategy and meet ambitions to become the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050, the European Commission has  awarded a new flagship project named IMPETUS. Its objective:  turn climate commitments into tangible, urgent actions to protect communities and the planet.


Accelerating our response in every bio-climatic region of Europe

The IMPETUS project will help accelerate Europe’s response to climate change and develop innovative measures to make its regions more resilient.

Motivated and multidisciplinary teams in research, policy, industry and civil society will address real-world challenges in seven test regions across Europe. Together these represent all the continent’s bio-climatic regions: Arctic, Atlantic, Boreal, Coastal, Continental, Mediterranean and Mountainous.  

These teams will analyse and scale the most effective solutions to protect water, agriculture, fisheries, infrastructure and health. Working with local policy-makers, businesses and communities will help to make them a success.

“93% of Europeans consider climate change a serious problem.”

“93% of Europeans consider climate change a serious problem. To respond effectively, we need to adapt our policy actions and strategies to new climatic situations. We need to better understand when and how to act in a transition to green economy.” says Aitor Corchero, Eurecat senior researcher and the project’s technical coordinator. “IMPETUS is important because it demonstrates the concrete actions we all urgently need to take to protect the environment and the economy. It will work on solutions for a range of climate conditions – from the Arctic to the Mediterranean basin – empower communities and protect key systems like water, agriculture and infrastructure.”

“IMPETUS is a major opportunity for the EU,’’ says project partner Professor Jochen Rabe, Managing Director of the Berlin Centre of Competence for Water. “The project will help our sustainable transformation, with in-depth research of complex climate change impacts in demonstration cases, as well as bottlenecks to climate mitigation and adaptation we all need to overcome.’’

Three pillars define the project:


15 technical and nature-based solutions, ranging from early warning systems and rapid risk appraisal of natural hazards to sand dune restoration


Targeted analysis using the latest data sets, digital modelling and cutting-edge technology will determine the highest impact actions and decisions to take


Collaborating with sectors, businesses and communities most at risk from climate change will help create solutions and define a transition that protects the environment and our economy

By putting transformative actions that change our climate future into place across Europe, IMPETUS aims to show what is possible – and give everyone the information and tools to achieve it for themselves.

To amplify this impact, specific partners will also advise insurance companies, financial institutions and banks on how they can also adapt and support, based on case studies. And together with the United Nations Sustainable Solutions Network and leading education providers, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) will make IMPETUS insights open to the world.

A four-year innovation action beginning October 2021

Beginning on 1 October 2021, the Dynamic Information Management Approach for the Implementation of Climate Resilient Adaptation Packages in European Regions project, known as IMPETUS, is set to run for four years. IMPETUS will help accelerate Europe’s climate adaptation strategy and meet the European Union’s ambitions to become the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050.

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Proud to be supported by Europe. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101037084


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."


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.


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."


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. 


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.


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.