LARGER forest fires, more torrential downpours, flooding, droughts, heatwaves, severe coastal erosion and acidification of the sea await the Valencia region if carbon dioxide emissions are not drastically reduced now.

This is the basic summary of the latest report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which predicts a catastrophic future for the Mediterranean coast.

Valencian experts who have analysed the study by the IPCC – the leading global authority on climate change founded in 1988 by the United Nations and the World Meteorological Organization – have warned that the Mediterranean coast of Spain will be ‘one of the most affected areas’.

This dire prediction is partly due to two major factors, namely the severe coastal erosion affecting 60% of the shoreline – mainly due to unchecked construction during the building boom – and rising sea temperatures, which are said to be increasing more drastically in the Mediterranean than in any other sea or ocean in the world.   

While maritime temperatures have climbed by 1.1ºC since the industrial revolution, the Mediterranean became up to 1.7ºC hotter and rose in volume by 20 centimetres between the years 1900 and 2018, with a noticeable leap over the last two decades.  

Heatwave climate change
Photo by Cordon Press

Although the Valencian scientists clarify that not every severe weather phenomenon can be directly attributed to CO2 emissions, they explain that the current context of climate change favours ever more vicious and destructive episodes.   

Overall, one of the most significant changes that can already be felt throughout the Valencian Community is a reduction in what is known as ‘thermal comfort’, with rising minimum temperatures, record highs and more ‘tropical’ nights that ever before – all of which have negative effects on physical and mental health.

In a bid to counteract the worst developments, the Generalitat on Friday passed a draft Climate Change Law and Ecological Transition bill, said to be ‘more ambitious’ than the national legislation approved recently.

While the law is approved by the regional Parliament, experts are working with local councils along the coast to update and adapt municipal town planning regulations and steps are being taken to bring the Valencian Community into line with the principles of the European Green Deal.

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