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Climate change evident across Europe

The effects of climate change are already evident in Europe and the situation is set to get worse, the European Environment Agency has warned. In a report, the agency says the past decade in Europe has been the warmest on record.

It adds that the cost of damage caused by extreme weather events is rising, and the continent is set to become more vulnerable in the future. The findings have been published ahead of next week’s UN climate conference. They join a UN Environment Programme report also released on Wednesday showing dangerous growth in the “emissions gap” – the difference between current carbon emission levels and those needed to avert climate change.

“Every indicator we have in terms of giving us an early warning of climate change and increasing vulnerability is giving us a very strong signal,” observed EEA executive director Jacqueline McGlade.

“It is across the board, it is not just global temperatures,” she told BBC News.

“It is in human health aspects, in forests, sea levels, agriculture, biodiversity – the signals are coming in from right across the environment.”

2C or not 2C

The report – Climate Change, Impacts and Vulnerabilities in Europe 2012 – involving more than 50 authors from a range of organisations, listed a number of “key messages”, including:

Observed climate change has “already led to a wide range of impacts on environmental systems and society; further climate change impacts are projected for the future”;
Climate change can increase existing vulnerabilities and deepen socio-economic imbalances in Europe;
The combined impacts of projected climate change and socio-economic development is set to see the damage costs of extreme weather events continue to increase.
As it currently stands, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change has set a target of limiting the rise in global mean temperature to 2C (3.6F) above pre-industrial levels.

But the report’s authors warn that even if this target to mitigate warming is met, “substantial impacts on society, human health and ecosystems are projected to occur”.

To limit the impacts, experts say effective adaptation strategies need to be developed in order to minimise the risk to nations’ infrastructure, homes and businesses.

The European Commission is expected to publish its European Adaptation Strategy in 2013, outlining measures it think will help the 27-nation bloc deal with future climate shifts.
Examples of adaptation measures include using water resources more efficiently, adapting building codes to be able to withstand extreme weather events and building flood defences.

Prof McGlade said such measures would be essential in order to climate-proof the EU.

Read full story on BBC News

Category: World News |

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Last updated October 22, 2016 at 2:00 PM
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