Climate change

Mountains are hard hit by climate change. They are warming faster and more intensely than other regions, with serious consequences for glaciers and ecosystems, as well as for economic sectors such as agriculture and tourism. Mountain areas are stepping up their efforts to adapt to the changes that are already taking place. Euromontana calls for greater consideration to be given to mountain areas in the context of the climate crisis and for further efforts to be made in climate change mitigation and adaptation and in the dissemination of knowledge.

Mitigating climate change

Mountains are the first victims of climate change, as global warming is faster there than in the lowlands. Over the last 50 years, the average temperature in the Pyrenees has risen by 30% (1.2°C) more than the global average (0.85°C). Summer temperatures in the Carpathians have risen by more than 2.4°C above normal in recent years, and the massif is at serious risk of drought. Accelerated mountain warming is leading to rapid glacier melt, increased climate risks and loss of biodiversity, affecting mountain communities and society as a whole.

We call for

  • Strengthening mitigation efforts in international and European policies to limit climate change and its consequences globally and in the mountains.
  • Supporting the energy transition by accelerating the use of renewable energies and the energy renovation of buildings. Euromontana promotes an energy mix tailored to each region and energy communities.
  • Climate-proofing the Common Agricultural Policy by promoting sustainable farming practices, extensive livestock farming and local distribution channels.
  • Climate-proofing Cohesion Policy by maintaining a significant budget for the green transition in Cohesion Policy after 2027. In addition, funds should be earmarked for mountain areas to support climate change mitigation efforts, such as investments in sustainable mobility and energy renovation.
  • Promoting nature-based solutions. In particular, carbon storage in permanent grasslands, wetlands and mountain forests should be promoted through the LIFE programme.

Providing strong support for adaptation to climate change

Mountain areas are actively engaged in adaptation, particularly in agriculture and tourism, the two main economic sectors in mountain areas. However, as the IPCC has pointed out, adaptation initiatives remain insufficient and often neglect other stakeholders. In mountain areas, the private sector is involved in only 10% of adaptation initiatives. Greater adaptation efforts are needed to ensure the resilience of these regions.

We call for

  • Taking better account of mountain regions in climate policies. Mountain regions are among those most affected by the climate crisis, yet the European Union’s adaptation strategy does not propose any specific measures for them.
  • Accelerating support to farmers and foresters to help them adapt to climate change in mountain areas. In particular, the Common Agricultural Policy, the LIFE and Horizon Europe programmes and the EU CAP Network should support the adaptation of pastoralism and crop farming practices in the face of rising temperatures and decreasing water resources, as well as the selection of breeds and varieties better adapted to local conditions.
  • Earmarking funds for mountains in the post-2027 Cohesion Policy to ensure no one is left behind. In particular, Cohesion Policy can support adaptation in winter tourism and climate risk management.
  • Co-designing adaptation strategies with local communities to ensure their suitability and acceptability.

Bridging the knowledge gap

Mountain areas face significant climate challenges that require a sound knowledge of risks and solutions. At present, mountain stakeholders remain unaware of some key issues, such as water. It is therefore crucial to improve knowledge on climate change in mountain areas, to bridge the gap between researchers and end-users, and to promote knowledge sharing and capacity building among local practitioners.

We call for

  • Improving knowledge of climate change and its impacts on mountain areas and raising awareness of climate issues in mountain areas among decision-makers, stakeholders and the general public.
  • Tackling further challenges within the Horizon Europe programme. Research and innovation projects such as MountResilience have considerable potential to help mountain communities adapt to climate change. In the future, the Horizon Europe calls should address more challenges such as the adaptation of mountain value chains and the impact of climate change on migration to mountain areas.
  • Supporting the exchange of experience and capacity building between mountain stakeholders. The EU Climate ADAPT platform, the weADAPT initiative and the OPCC database provide inspiring examples of adaptation to climate change. European funding should support mountain stakeholders to exchange knowledge and implement similar strategies, in particular through Interreg programmes.