It’s later than we think: climate change threat to coastal areas

Unchecked global warming will have even more devastating effects than previously thought, the latest report by the UN panel on climate IPCC has shown.

The findings, approved by 195 countries, shows that the world will be facing a ten-fold increase in damage done by climate change by the end of this century and, if no action is taken, the situation will be critical in the next.

The report’s main conclusion is that time is running out and that measures to limit the use of fossil fuels must be implemented as quickly as possible.

‘We are collectively steering in the wrong direction,’ Dutch Delta commissioner Peter Glas told broadcaster NOS. ‘The Netherlands is still one of the safest river deltas in the world but is at risk. Cities and coastal areas in particular will see an increase in damage and victims, if the sea level rises combined with flooding, high water in rivers and torrential rain.’

The water authorities’ umbrella organisation Unie van Waterschappen said the effects of climate changes are already obvious and that the Netherlands must prepare for long spells of drought and rainfall.

The Unie also said a radical rethink of building practices is needed and that the general population must be made more aware of the risks.

Aid organisation Red Cross said it was the first time climate scientists had confirmed that climate change, which will affect 3.5 billion people worldwide, will cause major humanitarian crises, as crops fail through drought, flooding and other extreme weather conditions brought on by global warming.

‘Governments have shown they can act decisively in the face of other threats, let them now use that same energy and determination to fight climate change,’ the Red Cross said in its reaction.

Painful conclusion

Greenpeace Netherlands energy expert Dewi Zloch said that the current climate, compromised as it is, is the safest we’ll have ‘because we know what damage global warming, rising sea levels are going to do’.

‘That is a very painful conclusion. We can only solve this by looking at the facts honestly,’ Zloch said. ‘If we take action now we may still prevent the worst scenario from happening. But governments are not preparing for the 1.5 degrees [temperature increase] world, despite promises.’

Energy and climate minister Rob Jetten said the cabinet will come up with an extensive reaction to the latest climate findings shortly.

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