The Netherlands faces code orange on climate change: weather bureau

flooded field and skyA global accord on tackling climate change is crucial for the future of the Netherlands, the Dutch weather bureau KNMI said on Sunday, ahead of the world climate summit in Paris.

‘If we do not reach agreement in Paris and the earth continues to warm up, then it will be code orange,’ director Gerard van der Steenhoven told broadcaster Nos. ‘The climate situation is really critical.’

The first 10 months of November are an illustration of climate change, Van der Steenhoven said. ‘There are signs of climate change all around us,’ he said. ‘We can only explain the exceptionally warm days in early November by including climate change in the equation. And that is new.’

Around 26% of the Netherlands is below sea level and 29% is open to river flooding, making it one of the countries most vulnerable to global warming.

The danger is three-fold, the KNMI says: without action to curb carbon dioxide emissions and reduce the rise in temperature, the sea level will rise by up to one metre this century, there will be much more rain in summer and the water level in the big rivers will rise sharply in the spring.

The combination of more water in the rivers and the rising sea level will make it more difficult for rivers to discharge into the ocean, leading to widespread flooding.

The Paris conference starts on November 11.