Europe blazes trail against climate change

By Andy Coghlan (Image: Christof Stache/Getty) AS CHAOS from climate change ramps up in the coming decades, making floods, droughts and heatwaves commonplace, Europe will be ready. So says the European Environment Agency, which launched its five-year assessment of the state of Europe’s environment in Copenhagen, Denmark, this week. A key message is that we must prepare now for the catastrophes that will become more frequent if the world warms up as predicted. “Many of the decisions we make today will determine how we are going to live in 2050,” said Hans Bruyninckx, executive director of the agency, at the launch of The European Environment State and Outlook 2015. “Many of the decisions we make today will determine how we are going to live in 2050” Unlike other rich nations such as the US and Australia, Europe has embraced the reality of climate change and is blazing a trail in preparation for what is to come. The European Union has agreed to spend 20 per cent of its budget of €960 billion for 2014 to 2020 on mitigating climate change and adapting to its effects. The money is expected to boost efforts to climate-proof Europe. “Countries must decide what to use it on, and make sure it’s used properly,” says Stéphane Isoard, the agency’s specialist on adaptation to climate change. Dozens of projects are already in various phases of readiness with the help of earlier funding. The top reason cited by 28 out of 30 national authorities for going ahead with such projects is the impact of previous extreme weather events, according to a survey published in October. Next, for 17 out of 30, came the heavy economic costs of storm or flood damage. For example, the European Commission estimates that between 1980 and 2011, floods killed more than 2500 people and adversely affected another 5.5 million in Europe, while causing economic losses exceeding €90 billion. As a result, 13 countries now have adaptation projects up and running, and another 33 have action plans or national adaptation strategies in place. Here, we showcase some of 60 or so projects from across the continent (see map).FIG-mg30113701.jpg Whether they will ultimately be enough to protect people in Europe will depend on the vagaries of climate change. But the costs of doing nothing could be even greater. The EC estimates that the annual cost to the EU of not adapting to climate change could rise to €100 billion by 2020 and €250 billion by 2050. Isoard can’t say if it’s possible to climate-proof our future, but given the success of flood management plans, for example, the introduction of the new projects is “clearly a very positive sign”. 1 Sogn og Fjordane mountains, Norway Hazard: Avalanches, landslides and flooding Solution: Early warning system. Warmer winters and unstable temperatures can cause rock slides and avalanches in unexpected locations, such as populated areas and roads. The scheme in this county aims to alert citizens and tourists at immediate risk from such hazards via landline and cellphone-based messaging systems, and social media, including Facebook. Cost: €105,000 2 Norfolk Broads, UK Hazard: Flooding from tidal surges Solution: Reinforce banks. Branded as “Britain’s Magical Waterland” the Norfolk Broads are unique wetlands where flooding is likely at neighbouring properties and farmland through breaches in old peat and clay embankments. The project aims to strengthen and modernise 175 kilometres of embankments to keep current and future settlements safe. Cost: €160 million 3 Nijmegen, The Netherlands Hazard: River flooding Solution: Get rid of the bottleneck in the Waal river, which bends sharply and narrows as it meanders around the coastal city of Nijmegen, causing floods. For example, in 1993 and 1995 a quarter of a million people had to be evacuated. The city is digging an extra channel, essentially broadening the river, giving it more room to flow. This will also create an urban island with new spaces for riverside recreation. Cost: €350 million 4 Berlin, Germany Hazard: Urban heat Solution: Grow vegetation wherever possible, including on roofs and walls, to provide shade and cool the city. Under the scheme, 60 per cent of newly built public and residential areas and 30 per cent of business areas in the inner city must be reserved as “green space”. Cost: Not available 5 Lodz, Poland Hazard: Storm flooding Solution: Provide a “sponge” for increasingly heavy rainstorms by restoring the city’s natural rivers and by building new reservoirs. During 19th-century industrialisation, rivers were turned into canals that don’t soak up water as well, which led to increasingly severe floods. Cost: €1.15 billion 6 Zaragoza, Spain Hazard: Drought Solution: Make Zaragoza’s 700,000 inhabitants more water-savvy to survive the lengthier droughts predicted for the region. Coupled with anti-leak repairs, the project has almost halved daily water use per person compared with 1980, and the city’s total water consumption has fallen by 30 per cent since 1995. Cost: €2.5 million, for the public information campaign 7 Venice, Italy Hazard: Storm surges and rising sea level Solution: Build four mobile barriers at the three points where water from the Adriatic Sea enters the lagoon on which Venice is built. The barriers could be temporarily raised to block sea surges and protect against rises of up to 60 centimetres. Cost: €4.5 billion 8 Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Hazard: Heatwaves Solution: Raise awareness. In 2007, a record heatwave in the landlocked Balkan country reached 45.7 °C causing an estimated 1000 deaths. The national action plan aims to raise public awareness and prepare the health sector to identify vulnerable citizens, and advise them on how to avoid the impact of severe heatwaves. Cost: Not available 9 Cyprus and Greece Hazard: Forest fires Solution: Fire analysis system. Around the Mediterranean forest fires have doubled in frequency since the 1970s, to 50,000 a year. To cope, firefighters have been testing a system to predict how a blaze will evolve. It integrates a range of data such as vegetation cover, landscape information, ignition risk and real-time weather feeds. Cost: €2.3 billion 10 Danube river: Bulgaria, Moldova, Romania, Ukraine Hazard: River flooding Solution: Soak up flood water by restoring 224,000 hectares of wetlands flanking 1000 kilometres of the river Danube. The wetlands were lost over the past century through dyke drainage projects in the four countries. The Lower Danube Green Corridor project aims to protect 1 million hectares of land currently vulnerable to flooding. Cost: €183 million This article appeared in print under the headline “Climate-proofing Europe” More on these topics:
  • 首页
  • 游艇租赁
  • 电话
  • 关于我们