Serbia is more exposed to climate change than other countries and lacks sufficient capacity to adapt to altered climatic conditions, which is why it sustains damage and losses that are much worse than those experienced by countries that carefully approach this problem
A ccording to the 2023 Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, average global temperatures in the 2011-2020 period were up 1.1°C compared to the period from 1850 to 1900. This rise corresponds to an average temperature increase of 0.90°C in Europe compared to the levels from 1961 to 1990.
Meteorological measurements for Serbia show that, compared to the 1961-1990 period, this temperature increased by more than 1.4°C in the 2001-2020 period (1.8°C from 2011 to 2020). In other words, the territory of Serbia is warming faster than the global and European average, which can lead us to conclude that the country is more exposed to climate change.
Alongside exposure, vulnerability also depends on sensitivity (the level of losses and damage) and the capacity to transform to handle altered climatic conditions (adaptation). Extreme weather events caused by climate change during the 1980-2021 period led to losses of 560 billion euros in EU member states. Minimal damage and losses sustained in Serbia in the period from 2000 to 2020 totalled a value of approximately seven billion euros. A simple calculation leads to the conclusion that losses and damage in Serbia are much greater than those sustained in the EU and that they are growing over time.
Such a ratio between losses and damage in Serbia and the EU provides an indirect indication of Serbia’s lack of capacity for adaptation. This is also confirmed by some global analyses and indices that position Serbia as the hardest hit country in Europe, ahead of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Albania when taking into account systemic readiness, or the economic, social and political readiness to adapt in a timely manner.
Every dollar invested in adapting to altered climatic conditions brings a total economic benefit of between two and 10 dollars
Serbia, thus, is not in an enviable position in both cases. More specifically, it is among the worst hit countries with the least systematic readiness to adapt in Europe. Setting aside assessments of capacity and political readiness – though I believe they are interdependent and also determine the level of investment and financing – the fact is that Serbia does not have the required funds designated for adaptation. It isn’t even known that detailed sector-specific assessments of the needs exist, despite it having been shown that every dollar invested in adapting to altered climatic conditions brings a total economic benefit of between two and 10 dollars.
An effective and systematic approach to adaptation could be ensured by the adopting and implementing of the National Adaptation Plan of the Republic of Serbia, as well as the determining of specific measures and actions at the level of subnational regions and local governments. It is essential to integrate expected future changes to the climate into sectoral and local policies and measures, which currently isn’t the case. Securing the full implementation of the Law on Climate Change, in the section related to monitoring and reporting on adaptation, would also ensure the strengthening of capacities and the raising of public awareness. It is essential to work systemically with the population on improving their understanding – both of the need to respond to changes that we are all aware of, and of the multiple benefits brought by those responses.
Early announcements and advanced warnings represent a significant “measure” when it comes to reducing the risks caused by extreme weather events. Viewed globally, there are various methods of providing early announcements and advanced warnings that are based on detailed analyses that’s distinctive to specific countries.