Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes: understanding and adapting to climate change

The region overlooking the French Alps is no stranger to the effects of climate change. But how is the regional energy and environment agency helping the public to prepare and adapt? Keep reading to find out.

Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes: understanding and adapting to climate change

Since 2007, the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region has been officially committed to mobilising on the theme of climate adaptation. By means of its energy & environment agency, AURA-EE, the region has embarked on multiple ambitious and far-reaching projects to help the region better understand and then cope with the consequences of climate change.

2007 – 2010

AURA-EE’s adaptation journey began when it facilitated a network of climate experts party to the Reflection and Action Group for Adaptation to the Effects of Climate Change (GRAACC), and contributed to the region’s climate, air and energy plan. As part of its efforts with GRAACC, the agency published a two-volume brochure titled “Climate change: how to adapt in Rhône-Alpes”.

2011 – 2022

A highlight for AURA-EE in the next years would be its work establishing and later operating the ORCAE observatory. ORCAE (the Regional Observatory for Climate, Air, and Energy) is a project collaborated by Atmo, Météo France, and Cerema. The project records key data in the region and creates profiles for climate, air, and energy data specific to each territory in the region. In turn, these data become translated into handy maps, graphs, and reports for the benefit of scientists, policy-makers, and the public.

In addition, AURA-EE created its own resource centre. Through this, the agency publishes thematic “take action” leaflets that promote manageable climate actions; the centre also relays the work of other actors, shares tools promoted by AURA-EE, and provides methodological and popular science guides.

The agency also organised field trips where interested parties can learn about the changes taking place in their region, as well as how to adapt to them. Two such trips included a visit to the Mountains of Ardèche, which explored the changing local economy in light of climatic changes in the mountains, as well as an excursion to the Arbresle commune last month, where participants learned how to predict critical weather situations in their local area.


Finally, the ClimaSTORY initiative has proved to be a great success. The initiative consists of playful, collective reflection sessions where stakeholders are invited to consider a fictitious territory from the angle of climate change. Then, participants come up with prospective adaptation solutions for 5 areas of economic activity.

Beyond the creative workshops, the ClimaSTORY initiative has expanded to work with real municipalities in the region: stakeholders from the Vallée de Chamonix-Mont-Blanc community were ultimately recipients of detailed maps demonstrating how climate change was affecting their area, and presented with a story about how to enact adaptation projects to cope. From this position, the community is well-placed to create meaningful adaptation plans, and has become able to pass this knowledge on to others.

2023 – future

Next year, AURA-EE will be excited to embark on two EU projects in the field of climate adaptation:

ADAPTNOW (ADAPTation capacity strengthening for highly affected and exposed territories in the alps NOW)

ADAPTNOW will work on strengthening the adaptation capacity of Highly Affected and Exposed Territories (HEAT) by implementing and evaluating the available climate adaptation and risk mitigation management tools and practices, assessing the Climate Adaptation Plans, and developing climate services to support the territories and their local public authorities. Ultimately, ADAPTNOW aims to make risk and adaptation planning more integrated, collaborative, and inclusive. 

The consortium has decided to focus its efforts on implementing and evaluating the adaptive capacity of pilots within predominant hazards in the Alps: heatwaves, heavy rains/floods, gravitational landslides, and wildfires. Key sectors have been identified to assess related impacts: urban infrastructure, forestry, tourism, and health.

The 12 project partners include FEDARENE members IRE LiguriaENERGAP, and Selnica ob Dravi Municipality.

X-RISK-CC (how to adapt to changing weather eXtremes and associated compound and cascading RISKs in the context of Climate Change)

This project aims to develop and implement improved risk management practices and adaptation pathways to better cope with extreme weather events and increase resilience under climate change. The project joins policy and decision-makers at different levels with renowned scientific institutions to amplify in-place risk reduction and adaptation systems while accounting for local specificities, uncertainties, and transnational hurdles. A systemic perspective on high-risk events, impacts, and risks coupled with newly developed data, methods and tools will be developed. The main beneficiaries of the planned X-RISK-CC knowledge hub are institutions with policy- and decision-making capacities as well as natural hazard risk managers.

Read more about AURA-EE’s recently approved projects.