Search

EUROPE EXPERIENCES INCREASED TEMPERATURES FOR THE PAST THREE DECADES

Peter Roberto, Marina Tovar, Pètra van de Gevel, (EUCOM); Jennifer Radlinsky, Breyona Woods, Emergency Management, Health, and Hazards (EMH2)

Claudia Santillan Vazquez, Editor; Justin Maurina, Editor; Argyrios Chatziilias, Senior Editor

November 13, 2022


European temperatures in 2019[1]


Geographical Area | Europe

Countries Affected | EU


Europe experienced the greatest temperature increases of any continent over the past 30 years, causing extreme weather events (EWE), like the UK heatwave and the melting of the Alpine glaciers.[2] The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) report on 2021 found that storm and flood damage cost European countries billions of dollars,[3] and heatwaves killed thousands.[4] Old infrastructure will likely lack the resiliency needed to withstand EWEs and natural disasters like heatwaves and droughts. Economic security issues will almost certainly increase, as climate change will likely worsen the effects of EWEs. Severe air quality degradation will very likely cause health issues, likely increasing the need for healthcare services.


Security Risk Level:

Areas of High-Security Concern: Increased temperatures will likely increase extreme rainfall events, resulting in floods and damaging physical and social infrastructures, like power grids and buildings. Citizens in countries with high risk of floods, like Serbia, Romania Bosnia, and Hungary, will likely experience internal movements from areas that are flooded to areas not affected. Repeated droughts will almost certainly make dry soil unable to absorb rain, likely leading to severe flooding and destruction of agricultural lands. Wildfires in Spain and France will very likely reduce air quality and very likely increase respiratory illnesses for outdoor workers. Major damage to remote towns and villages will very likely displace residents searching for food, water, and safety.

Current Claims: EU; European Commission; UK; Serbia; Slovakia; Hungary; Bosnia; Romania; Spain; France; WMO

Groups Involved in Conflict: European citizens; United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

Current Conflicts: Temperatures in Europe increased more than twice the global average over the past 30 years, causing frequent heat waves, wildfires, and floods.[5] In 2021, EWE affected more than 500,000 people and caused more than $50 billion in damages, 84% of which were from floods and storms.[6]

Major Capital Industries: Emergency management; healthcare

Potential Industry Concerns: Rescue and emergency management personnel operating in flooded areas will likely experience delays providing services, likely decreasing victims’ access to adequate medical care. Underlying medical conditions will likely worsen due to lack of prompt treatment, likely increasing the chances of people facing serious diseases, likely raising the number of deaths. An increased number of people attending healthcare facilities for respiratory and cardiovascular diseases will likely deplete medical resources, and high demand will likely cause delays in supply replenishment.


Areas of Caution:

  • Economic: European countries lost approximately $50 billion due to climate change-related EWE.[7] Extreme heat and reduced soil moisture increase the risk of costly forest fires.[8] In Spain, wildfires burned more than 283,000 hectares of land this year; on average, a hectare of land costs around €10,334.[9] Since mid-2020, food prices increased more than 70%,[10] and droughts will further affect prices and the cost-of-living crisis.[11]

  • Infrastructure: Transportation infrastructure was built based on historical climate records for resiliency against weather events, but historical records are no longer reliable due to future climate changes.[12] From 2040 to 2070, the EU will dedicate €380 million to protect bridges against erosion, and from 2070 to 2100, €300 million to address extreme precipitation damages on transport infrastructure.[13] The European Commission estimates that a 1-meter sea level increase would permanently or temporarily flood transport infrastructure assets valued at €18.5 billion.[14] High temperatures result in more frequent and severe drought-induced soil subsidence, damaging the building's foundations, and structures.[15]

  • Health: In November 2022, the WMO reported extreme weather events in Europe are more frequent, severe, and expected to worsen.[16] The health impact ranges from deaths and illnesses via water-borne diseases from flooding to respiratory and cardiovascular issues from heatwaves and droughts.[17] Older people with preexisting health conditions and the disabled are likely vulnerable to temperature fluctuations and life-threatening complications.[18] Those with mental health conditions are susceptible to intense heat and cold, as psychological medications can hinder body temperature regulation.[19]


Predictive Analysis:

  • Who: Countries in Europe will very likely continue experiencing climate change-related events, which will likely worsen in the upcoming years due to increased temperatures. Countries at high risk of floods, like Serbia, Bosnia, Romania, and Hungary, will very likely face more frequent floods. Countries at high risk of fires, like Spain and France, will very likely face more intense and frequent forest fires due to increased temperatures and lack of rain. Residents of European countries will likely experience increased chronic health conditions and reduced economic stability.

  • What: Climate change will very likely cause more frequent EWEs, almost certainly affecting the livelihoods of citizens in high-risk countries. The weather-related destruction of food sources, public utilities, and healthcare systems will likely pose a security threat. The ability of areas to recover from environmental deterioration will likely determine the sustainability of economies and livelihoods. Countries at high risk of floods will likely impact their physical infrastructure, like buildings and roads.

  • Why: Countries not complying with the goals outlined in international climate change agreements will likely reduce the overall success in meeting agreed upon benchmarks, almost certainly increasing environmental damage. Old infrastructure will likely lack the resiliency needed to withstand EWE. Droughts, floods, and wildfires will likely destroy usable agricultural land, likely reducing food production and export revenue. Weather-related diseases, like respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, will likely overwhelm healthcare systems and lead to a high death toll from inadequate medical care.

  • When: The WMO predicts EWEs will likely increase in the coming years, very likely increasing destruction and prolonging recovery times for countries and their citizens. Increased climate change-related events will likely escalate floods and heavy rainfalls, likely impacting European countries originally unlikely to suffer frequent flood events.

  • How: Climate change-related EWEs will likely worsen and become more frequent. Damage costs from these events will likely increase proportionately to weather severity. International partnerships will likely meet and have to generate ideas and tactics, like adopting renewable energy resources and promoting sustainable use of land and forests, to mitigate Europe’s climate change threat.

The Emergency Management, Health, and Hazards (EMH2) and EUCOM teams recommend that the EU continue collaboration on innovative ways to fight climate change. EMH2 and EUCOM recommend that the governments continue to commit to aggressive strategies, like pricing carbon emissions and subsidizing clean energy, to combat climate change. The EUCOM team suggests investing in Research and Development (R&D) across all industries to advance solutions, like resilience and protection plans for buildings or solutions to decrease pollution. The EUCOM team suggests the European Commission to continue monitor and report EU greenhouse emissions and the progress made in reducing emissions, like from road transport, shipping and aviation. The EUCOM team recommends the EU continues funding for climate action and to further integrate climate issues into EU policies and programs. EMH2 advises EU countries and NGOs conduct public education campaigns on preparedness strategies for natural disasters and develop and promote assistance programs to help residents’ recovery from property loss.


The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) works to detect, deter, and defeat terrorism and will continue to monitor this situation for future developments. CTG’s Worldwide Analysis of Threats, Crimes, and Hazards (W.A.T.C.H) Officers will monitor the EU for developments in the frequency of EWEs, and in conjunction with EMH2, analyze new information to prepare for timely dissemination. The EMH2 team will closely monitor severe weather forecasting for the EU and both teams will remain on high alert and provide information via Flash Alerts or Imminent Warning Reports.

 

[1]Too hot to handle” by European Space Agency licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

[2] Europe warms more than any other continent in last 3 decades, Reuters, November 2022, https://www.reuters.com/business/cop/europe-warms-more-than-any-other-continent-last-3-decades-2022-11-02/

[3] Ibid

[4] Europe Heat Waves Disastrous for Older People, People with Disabilities, Human Rights Watch, August 2022, https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/08/12/europe-heatwaves-disastrous-older-people-people-disabilities

[5] Temperatures in Europe increase more than twice global average, World Meteorological Organization, November 2022, https://public.wmo.int/en/media/press-release/temperatures-europe-increase-more-twice-global-average

[6] Ibid

[7] Ibid

[8] Summer 2022: Living in a state of multiple crises, European Environmental Agency, September 2022, https://www.eea.europa.eu/articles/summer-2022-living-in-a

[9] The cost of Europe’s summer of wildfires, City Monitor, September 2022, https://citymonitor.ai/environment/climate-change-environment/the-cost-of-europes-summer-of-wildfires

[10] Climate change is Fuelling Global Food Price Inflation and Shortages, Earth.org, June 2022, https://earth.org/climate-change-global-food-price-inflation-and-shortages/

[11] Summer 2022: Living in a state of multiple crises, European Environmental Agency, September 2022, https://www.eea.europa.eu/articles/summer-2022-living-in-a

[12] Temperatures in Europe increase more than twice global average, World Meteorological Organization, November 2022, https://public.wmo.int/en/media/press-release/temperatures-europe-increase-more-twice-global-average

[13]Transport infrastructure, European Commission, n.d., https://joint-research-centre.ec.europa.eu/peseta-projects/peseta-ii/biophysical-results/transport-infrastructure_en

[14] Ibid

[15] “Climate change: Implications for Buildings”, University of Cambridge, 2014, https://www.bpie.eu/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Template_AR5_-_Buildings_v10_-_Web_Pages.pdf

[16] Temperatures in Europe increase more than twice global average, World Meteorological Organization, November 2022, https://public.wmo.int/en/media/press-release/temperatures-europe-increase-more-twice-global-average

[17] Report: Europe hit with the largest rises in temperatures, Euronews, November 2022, https://www.euronews.com/2022/11/02/report-europe-hit-with-the-largest-rises-in-temperatures

[18] Europe Heat Waves Disastrous for Older People, People with Disabilities, Human Rights Watch, August 2022, https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/08/12/europe-heatwaves-disastrous-older-people-people-disabilities

[19] Ibid

48 views