29 Nov 2023, 13:29
Carolina Kyllmann

Germany must strengthen adaptation efforts as impacts of climate change worsen – govt report

Clean Energy Wire

Germany must step up its climate adaptation efforts as it faces prolonged droughts, severe water loss and increasing warming, according to the latest update to the country's Adaptation Monitoring Report by the Federal Environment Agency (UBA). The report, which is updated every four years, provides an overview of the effects of climate change in Germany and the countermeasures being implemented. "The devastating consequences of the climate crisis are increasing at an alarming rate," environment minister Steffi Lemke said. "It is clear that we need even more commitment: in order to maintain the quality of life in Germany, we need to push ahead with climate adaptation.”

The past four years in Germany have been characterised by severe regional droughts, and the average temperature has risen 1.7°C in comparison to 1881 – 0.6°C above the global average increase. "In absolute terms, Germany is one of the regions with the highest water loss worldwide," the report reads. The German Meteorological Service (DWD), which analysed data for the report, by 2060 expects temperature increases between 0.8 and 1.5°C if climate measures are undertaken, compared to the reference period 1971-2000. The increase could amount to between 1.5 and 2.3°C in a high-emissions scenario with unchecked greenhouse gas emissions, it added. The available data emphasises the urgency of reducing emissions and adapting to unavoidable changes, said Tobias Fuchs, head of climate and environment at the DWD.

"More and more storms, heavy rainfall, droughts and heatwaves are having an impact on people's health, ecosystems and the economy," Lemke said. While the report makes it clear that Germany must strengthen its adaptation efforts, it also highlighted that awareness in local authorities has increased, as have projects driving forward precautionary measures. In particular, efforts made to reduce the number of heat-related deaths have been successful, said Dirk Messner, head of the UBA

Adapting to the already unavoidable effects of climate change is necessary to save lives, reduce the ecological and socio-economic impacts of the crisis, and minimise future costs. The environment ministry introduced a new climate adaptation law in summer, requiring the government to draw up a strategy by 2025 with clear and binding targets to deal with the effects and risks of climate change. In addition, the national water strategy and natural climate protection action programme are set to drive adaptation efforts forward.

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