Parties to the UNECE Convention of Transboundary effects of industrial accidents reinforce the need for adaptation to climate change to prevent the industrial accidents

As a result of an increase in the frequency and intensity of climate-related extreme weather events, such as high energy storms, wind gusts, heavy precipitation and extreme temperatures and slow onset climate events, such as rising sea levels, thawing of permafrost, land degradation and retreating glaciers, the risk of industrial accidents, in particular from mine tailings, is elevated. Mine tailings safety has been a matter of concern of the governments. Failures at Tailings Management Facilities (TMFs) may lead to major environmental catastrophes with devastating effects on humans and the environment both within and across countries, as demonstrated by major past accidents in the UNECE region, such as the dam break of a tailings pond at a mining facility in Baia Mare (Romania, 2000) and, more recently, the aluminium sludge spill in Kolontar (Hungary, 2010) or the accident at the Talvivaara Mining Company (Finland, 2012).

Some weather events can lead to flooding and the overflow of Tailings Management Facilities; others can lead to leaks through drying out, or trigger micro-seismic events that could weaken tailing impoundments and, in extreme cases, create fatal breaches through the cracking of structures In view of these and other scenarios. This requires increased efforts to strengthen tailings safety and prevent failures.

On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Convention, the Parties adopted a roadmap to strenghten the mine tailings safety. The climate change adaptation tools, such as multi-hazard early warning system and the framework of weather, water, climate and related environmental services are part of the roadmap. The World Meteorological Organization Regional Association VI is ready to support the process by sharing the regional expertise and knowledge.

In this connection, the WMO Regional Office for Europe and the Coordinator of the RA VI Regional Climate Center participated in the UNECE Seminar on the Natural hazards-triggered industrial accidents, held as part of the Conference of Parties of the UNECE Convention of transboundary effects of industrial accidents.

Building on the successful inter-agency collaboration on the 2021 State of the Climate in Europe report, the WMO Regional Office for Europe and the Coordinator of the RA VI Regional Climate Center highlighted the importance of inter-agency collaboration to ensure a multi-hazard approach of the early warning systems and to develop the weather, water, climate and the related environmental services on regional and national level.