It is becoming apparent that as discussions about a global deal on greenhouse emissions are heating up but not reaching any agreement, countries should prepare for the very possible 3-4 degrees increase in temperature.
The European Environment Agency (EEA) released a report summarizing what has already happened across the continent and what can be expected. Here are a few tips that countries in Europe should follow in order to deal with the change.
1. Dealing with heatwaves
Heatwaves are becoming more frequent. The southern part of the continent will be particularly affected, considering the already hotter temperatures, while the ageing European population is the most vulnerable.
The first step is to reshape Northern cities similarly to these in the South. The streets should be narrow and shady, with less concrete. EEA officials base this advice on figures from heatwaves that occurred in 2003, killing 35, 000 people mostly in France. Changing cities’ architecture and freeing more green space would even help them deal with flooding.
2. Dealing with flooding
The whole of Europe is threatened by severe floods, similar to what is currently happening in the UK. Northern and Western countries will be affected the most by more extreme storms further inland from the Atlantic caused by Arctic ice melts and rising sea level.
Areas around the North Sea will experience the highest sea level rise, causing low-lying coastal areas will be heavily eroded and will eventually disappear.
Europe is advised to follow the example of the Netherlands, who have managed to save a large part of their territory to remain dry, although it is below sea level.
3. Preserving the power sources
Areas like these in the Alps and Scandinavia, who rely on hydroelectric dams, might struggle in summer. Nuclear power, on the other hand, will be affected due to the location of most plants along the coastline of a water body, urging for better protection.
However, renewable energy, especially biofuel, will be benefited The longer growing seasons will allow crop production in regions such as Scandinavia. Some biofuel crops are particularly favoured by rain.
4. Preserving the food supplies
Agricultural crop production will face a particular challenge with increasing floods and storms in the north, and heatwaves in the south. .
Countries in the Mediterranean region would stop producing many of the staples due to unsuitable climate, while farmers should use the land to grow drought-tolerant crops.
Countries like Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey are currently high-risk zones, however they have the potential to help feed Europe. Another country that could benefit is the UK, that would have longer growing season due to higher temperatures.
Another sector that would be affected are the fisheries, mainly due to the migration of marine species.
5. Maintaining stable economy
Europe is still struggling to recover from the financial crisis that hit the continent in 2008. However, climate change would only make things worse.
Developed and financially more stable countries would be able to construct sea defenses for example, however poorer countries would struggle.
Savings are very much required, so that costs due to upcoming natural disasters can be covered. EEA is concerned that poorer as well as smaller countries would not be able to adopt without help. Bulgaria would not be able to invest in preparedness, Switzerland might be fully affected by a single event, Mediterranean countries not only have financial problems, but also they rely heavily on tourism and agriculture.