Global warming will affect global electricity production

How secure are energy supplies in major cities across the globe? [Nick Page/Flickr]

Global warming threatens global electricity production, according to a report released by four organisations on 19 June. As many as 270 power plants could face an increased risk of flooding by 2050. EURACTIV’s partner Le Journal de l’environnement reports.

C40, the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, the Urban Climate Change Research Network (UCCRN) and Acclimatise envision a dark future in their report titled “The future we don’t want”, which shows the key challenges global cities will face because of global warming.

The authors of the report give a portrayal of the most pessimistic but currently most likely future by using the RCP 8.5 scenario (where GHG emissions continue to rise) drawn up by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), for their calculations.

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Over 1.6 billion people affected by extreme heat waves

According to the authors’ calculations, global warming will affect urban populations in several ways: extreme temperatures (1.6 billion people could face regular extreme heatwaves by 2050, compared to 200 million currently), decreased drinking water supplies and food insecurity. Rising sea levels will put 570 cities with more than 100.000 inhabitants at risk of floods by 2050, and this could affect over 800 million people.

Power plants vulnerable to flooding

The report also highlights the threat of weakening electricity production caused by the rise of sea levels. The authors of the report have identified that 270 power plants around the world are exposed to this threat: most are located within less than 5 kilometers from the coast, and on land that does not exceed five meters above sea level.

As a result, 230 cities inhabited by 450 million people could face frequent power cuts. According to the report, among the most at-risk cities are: London, New York, Shanghai, Mumbai, Calcutta and Madras.

Political and economic threat

“Energy supply is a critical resilience priority; if energy systems fail, they add additional stresses on the ability to provide potable water supply, food, transportation, sanitation, communications, and healthcare, etc. Energy supply disruptions can lead to cascading failures across the economy, impacting the functioning of the government, businesses, and local communities,” stated the authors of the report.

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