As Europe reels from flooding, which submerged streets, closed schools and saw thousands evacuated, EU leaders are reminded of the threats of climate change to the continent.
In France, the Louvre and Orsay museums were shut as flood waters in Paris peaked over six metres above normal levels, while 5,000 people were evacuated, over 20,000 homes were left without power, and an estimated €1 billion in damages were caused across the country.
Experts have been quick to connect this latest extreme weather event to climate change, and now, a new report from E3G warns that if left unmanaged, the frequency of such events could bring untold security threats, human losses and economic disruption to Europe.
- Once a distant threat, Europe can no longer ignore the climate impacts on its doorstep. In the last 30 years, Europe has seen a 60 per cent increase in extreme weather events, resulting in thousands of lives lost and huge economic disruption, and severe flooding events are expected to double by 2050. In 2003 heat-waves caused up to 70,000 deaths across Europe, last year extreme temperatures brought €2 billion in losses and in 2014 flooding and storms caused around €20 billion of damages in the UK alone.
- Climate threats know no borders, and threaten prosperity and security. 2015 was the hottest year on record, and as extreme weather continues to pummel communities across the globe it threatens public health, increases malnutrition and water scarcity and acts as a “threat multiplier” aggravating conflicts and driving mass displacement. As Europe prepares its new security strategy, today’s report warns its foreign policy interests have become “inseparable from managing climate risk and the global energy transition.”
- Ending fossil fuels is vital to limit warming and protect communities. With a pledge to hold global temperature rise below 1.5DegC,the Paris Agreement was a collective acknowledgement of the growing threat of climate change, but to get there the vast majority of fossil fuels will need to stay in the ground. With a volatile dirty energy market also causing growing instability, an orderly transition towards a cleaner energy future will slash emissions, build resilience and safeguard countries and communities.