The European Commission this week stepped up the European Union’s campaign to lead the fight against climate change by warning that global warming was so catastrophic that it could trigger regional conflicts, poverty, famine and migration.
Setting out a strategy to combat global warming and improve Europe’s energy security at the same time, it said the secondary effects of climate change, such as conflicts elsewhere, would inevitably affect even a less vulnerable Europe.
In the wake of last year’s Stern report in the United Kingdom, the commission forecast severe impacts on certain ecosystems, with some species and habitats disappearing, and a decline in global food production, with the spread of infectious diseases such as malaria and dengue fever.
Calling for international agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2020, it said water scarcity and quality would become problems for many regions, while sea levels would rise and some low-lying islands such as the Maldives and coastal regions such as the Bangladesh delta could drown.
Weather impacts are likely to include higher temperatures, heatwaves and increased dryness, with the risk of drought and fires, and elsewhere increased rainfall, storms and floods. Southern Europe would be the region most affected.
The commission concludes that if urgent action is not taken billions of dollars’ damage will be caused. It aims to steer the world towards keeping the rise in temperature to no more than 2Â°C above pre-industrial levels.
The commission said if temperatures rise by 2,2Â°C, an extra 11Â 000 people in Europe would die within a decade and from 2071 there would be 29Â 000 extra deaths a year in southern Europe alone. Only slightly fewer — 27Â 000 — would die in northern Europe. It said there was a 50% chance that global temperatures would rise this century by more than 5Â°C.
The dire warnings came as the commission asserted the EU’s ambition to be the world’s first low-carbon economy by proclaiming a global target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2020. Current EU energy policies were unsustainable and would increase Europe’s emissions by 5% by 2030, it added. — Â