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08/12/2016

Brussels and Naples at risk of flooding if temperatures rise by 4°C

Climate & Environment

Brussels and Naples at risk of flooding if temperatures rise by 4°C

Much of the Netherlands will be flooded if sea levels continue to rise as predicted.

[Dennis Jarvis/Flickr]

Rising sea levels caused by climate change could destroy the homes of 700 million people and flood large parts of Europe. EurActiv France reports

A new projection by the think-tank Climate Central has warned that many European regions could be wiped off the map as a result of climate change. The homes of 760 million people could be submerged if global temperature rises are allowed to reach +4°C, while a +2°C temperature change would destroy around 130 million homes.

Many of Europe’s coastal regions are under threat, but the risk in some areas is particularly high. Belgium and the Netherlands, large parts of which are below sea level, would lose large amounts of land to rising sea levels.

The encroaching waters could even reach as far in-land as the northern suburbs of Brussels.

In France, the region of Bordeaux would also be hit by rising sea levels. Without mentioning the dire consequences for the wine industry, which is already suffering from the effects of climate change, a +4°C temperature rise could force 178,000 of the region’s inhabitants out of their homes.

According to the NGO’s predictions, a +4°C temperature change would cause the sea level in the region to rise by 7.7 metres, while a +2°C temperature increase would cause a 4.6 metre rise. The coastlines of many areas, particularly of small islands, would be entirely changed.

>> Read: Climate change threatens European wine production

If the current climate trajectory is not reversed, Italy will see the city of Naples, as well as many cities on the Adriatic coast, slip beneath the waves.

The extremely localised impacts of climate change explain the motivation of some regions when it comes to climate action.

>> Read: Cities, regions and climate change

Europe’s coastal regions met at the general assembly of the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CPMR) on Friday 6 November to demand “a major role in the fight against climate change and for adaptation”.

At the meeting in Florence, in Italy, Antonio Tajani, an MEP and vice-president of the European Parliament, said, “Maritime regions are at the heart of Europe’s industrial renaissance. The shipping sector employs 500,000 people and has a revenue of €72 billion. It is a strategic sector.”

Adaptation: a forgotten issue?

Adaptation to climate change is just as important as efforts to cut carbon emissions, according to the NGO E3G, which is campaigning to raise the level of ambition in the Paris climate agreement, currently under negotiation.

“The Paris agreement must change our approach to planning for climate threats, provide resources to deal with risks and protect the most vulnerable people,” said Camilla Born, the E3G campaign leader.

The environment ministers of 60 countries will meet in Paris tomorrow (10 November) to agree on the conditions of the climate package.

“The Bonn text is long, too long, but it remains our working document,” Laurent Fabius, the French minister for the environment, said on Friday (6 November). Made up of 26 articles, the draft agreement under discussion is fairly broad, and the aim of the current negotiations is to make it more focussed.

The ministers will be divided into four groups to examine questions of ambition, equity, concrete actions and financing. But the question of adaptation arises across several areas of the agreement. It is not only part of the post-2020 financing debate, but also one of the major issues for North-South relations and the future of the small island states. 

Background

Negotiations on climate change began in 1992, and the UN organises an annual international climate change conference called the Conference of the Parties, or COP.

The 20th COP took place in Lima, Peru, in December 2014, and Paris is hosting the all-important 21st conference in December 2015.

The participating states must reach an agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol, the object of which was to reduce CO2 emissions between 2008 and 2012.

Reaching an agreement, whether legally binding or not, is the priority between now and December.

So far around 90 countries have submitted their national contributions to the COP 21. Regions and cities can make voluntary contributions to the international negotiations. 

Further Reading