Regional challenges in the perspective of 2020. Regional disparities and future challenges - Climate Change
"In this paper climate change is understood as a set of alterations in the average weather caused by global warming due to the emission of anthropogenic greenhouse gases.
Climate change is serious and scary. Amongst all challenges that are dealt with in this project it is the one challenge that potentially has the most severe impacts, globally and on Europe. The very reason for this is that climate change affects virtually every aspect of our every day life, economic, social and environmental. It is a multidimensional challenge, with its impacts not only ranging from issues like human health, supply of safe water and food, biodiversity, economic development etc., but also has impacts on all the other four challenges dealt with under this project.
The impacts of climate change can be extreme, almost unbelievable. To illustrate, pessimistic estimates predict that if global temperature increases by around 3°C above pre-industrial level additional 550 million people (approximately the size of the EU) will be at risk of hunger in world. Likewise, for the same increase in temperature, 50% of animal species may be extinct, and this is just the top of the (by then non-existing) iceberg.
Climate change is not an European challenge. It is a global challenge with effects on Europe. This has to be made aware of. Because just as Europe is responsible for safeguarding its people from the negative impacts of climate change, it has, being one of the world’s major force, to take up its responsibility for the other parts of the world. It is certainly not enough to sit back and enjoy the privilege of being born into a developed part of the world that, if let alone, could deal with any problem or challenge. Our actions affect people all over the world, just as their actions affect us. From that, if philanthropist reasons are not enough for Europe to take up its responsibility, it should do so, because the impacts climate change has in other parts of the world might have military, social and economic repercussions on the Europeans.
In the light of the severity of the impacts climate change can have, it is surprising how little is known about it in public. Sure, climate change gained public attention in 2007, when Al Gore and the IPCC won the Nobel Peace Prize "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change". But still it is felt that public awareness is much too low.
Tackling climate change and finding the right policies is not only about mitigation, adaption and analysing the problem. It is also about making it known to the people, because in the end it is us that, with our every day actions, are responsible of what the future climate will be.
In this spirit, and since climate change is, as mentioned, a multidimensional challenge this paper, by reviewing the current literature, aims at giving an overview of the multiple impacts climate change can have globally and on Europe. Its main focus are the economic, environmental and social consequences, firstly at the world and secondly at the European level, with the ultimate aim to derive some conclusions on how climate change affects the European Union’s NUTS-2 regions.
The remainder of the paper is organised as follows:
Chapter 2 reviews current findings on the global and European impact of climate change, also taking into account developments in neighbouring regions, likely repercussions from global effects on Europe and some aspects of adaption to climate change. Chapter 3 develops an indicator to assess the vulnerability of EU NUTS 2 regions to climate change. Finally, chapter 4 by taking into account the insights from the previous chapter the paper dares to present two scenarios of potential impacts of climate change on regions: a pessimistic scenario based on the assumption that climate change and global warming cannot be stopped and an optimistic scenario based on the hypothesis that global warming will stop at the EU’s target of a temperature that is only 2°C higher than in the pre-industrial era.
Importantly, it has to be noted that mitigation will not be covered in this paper, as this will be done in the paper on the energy challenge."
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