Climate change is occurring at a faster pace in the Alps than in lowland areas. It is affecting the living conditions of their 14 million inhabitants, 30’000 animal species and 13’000 plant species. The impacts of climate change vary across the Alps, but they do not stop at administrative borders: alpine-wide and cross-sectoral collaboration in mitigation and adaptation is required.
To this effect, the Ministers of the eight Alpine countries in charge of the Alpine Convention and the European Union adopted a Declaration on Climate Change (2006) and an Action Plan on Climate Change in the Alps (2009). There followed an array of activities with climate relevance within many thematic bodies of the Alpine Convention, which led to alpine-wide guidelines in the field of water management (including hydropower), natural hazards, local adaptation and more. In recent years, the Vision “Renewable Alps” was affirmed (2014) and the 6th Report on the State of the Alps “Greening the Economy in the Alpine Region” approved (2016).
In 2016, the XIV Alpine Conference identified “Taking action on climate change” as one of the six priorities of its Multi-Annual Work Programme (MAP) for the period 2017-2022 and decided “to establish an Alpine Climate Board in order to bundle together existing climate change initiatives and contributions in the alpine area and to elaborate proposals for a concrete Target System of the Alpine Convention in regard to the perspective of a “climate-neutral Alpine space” in accordance with the European and international objectives”.
Composed of representatives of all Alpine States and many Alpine Convention Observers, the Alpine Climate Board (ACB) worked over two years in a collegial, highly participative manner and actively involving the thematic working bodies of the Alpine Convention. As a first step, the ACB developed a comprehensive “stock-taking” (Stock-taking report 2017; updated in February 2019), which identified over hundred recent or ongoing climate-related activities of Alpine Convention bodies (thematic bodies, Permanent Secretariat), of the Contracting Parties (with relevance for the overall Alpine area or with high potential for transferability) as well as of Observers. The report provided an analysis of the current focus of activities and first recommendations for further action of the Alpine Convention1.
For the design of the Alpine Climate Target System, the ACB focussed on soft, but verifiable objectives for the 2050 horizon with the aim of enhancing the added value of alpine-wide cooperation. The present report, prepared for approval by the XV Alpine Conference in April 2019, outlines the proposals for an overall structure of the Climate Target System of the Alpine Convention (part 2). It identifies four general principles guiding the process (part 3). The overall strategic objectives are defined in part 4 and operationalized in sectoral climate targets in part 5. Communication aspects, recognised as a pillar of the system, are developed in part 6. Finally, part 7 provides recommendations for the implementation of the Alpine Climate Target System.