One record follows the next: heat, drought, forest fires, heavy rain. And Europe is in the middle of it all. We will feel the consequences even more in many areas of everyday life. Temperatures are rising twice as fast here as elsewhere.
So is the outlook only bleak? Not at all. There is a lot to do. So, keep cool and change course!
With this video, the FES Just Climate launches its new series. It informs about the consequences of the climate crisis for Europe. And it also shows very practical ways of what has to change now so that we can continue to live and work safely in the future.
Our cities are facing a huge challenge. Rising temperatures due to climate change are hitting them particularly hard because there is often a lack of green spaces and water areas. At the same time, in the future, more and more older people will live in cities. These two developments make climate action a key social issue. Heat is not only unpleasant for older people, but a real health risk. A model in a renowned medical journal (The Lancet) calculates that around 104,000 older people died in Europe in the heatwave summer of 2018 due to heat. That's why our cities need to prepare now: we need green roofs and facades, additional parks and green spaces, more drinking water dispensers and sunshades at bus stops, as well as brighter street surfaces and facades. This will increase the quality of life for everyone and protect the lives of older and weaker people.
Particularly from an economic perspective, it is beneficial for Europe if we invest early and wholeheartedly in climate-friendly technologies. The development of green steel, for example, may be expensive at first, but it will secure our global competitiveness in the long term. If we do not invest, we will not only lose the fight against the climate crisis. We will also lose a lot of good jobs, which ensure our prosperity. Climate action is a social issue.
Global warming leads to lower yields in grain and fruit harvests. And the heat stress on cows and pigs also makes the production of animal foods more difficult. If we do not take countermeasures, we will end up producing significantly less food in Europe and prices will rise. If we reduce global warming, we will protect our agriculture, our animals, and ensure affordable food prices.
People with little money often live in poorly insulated houses. That is why they are particularly affected by hot summers and cold winters. Grandma Inge is then uncomfortable inviting visitors over - it is simply too cold because she can no longer afford to heat. We believe that state support for building renovation must help these people. Grandma Inge must be able to afford a normally heated flat again. In a renovated house, she will use less energy for this than before.
Socially worse off people often cannot choose where they live. Housing prices, especially in cities, force them to move next to busy roads. High levels of particulate matter, exhaust fumes, and noise damage their health. They suffer more often from asthma diseases or sleep disorders. This is unfair. A higher share of e-cars, bicycles, or public transport can protect these people and reduce environmental pollution.
Workplace safety will become even more important in the future. Climate change especially makes heavy physical work outdoors more difficult. High-quality work clothing with, for example, good UV protection and adapted working hours are needed. Extreme temperatures will also have an impact on office work. Better insulation in office buildings, improved air quality, and healthy temperatures cannot longer be a luxury in the future. This must become the new standard in the working world.
Due to the effects of climate change, more and more people are losing their homes. Devastating flood disasters are already hitting us more frequently. Coastal areas could become uninhabitable in a few decades. And in some regions of the Global South, food can no longer be grown at all. That is why climate action is a social issue. The impacts of the climate catastrophe force people to leave their homes, intensify conflicts over resources and fuel existing political conflicts. These are human catastrophes that we can only prevent by being committed to climate protection.
It is becoming increasingly clear that climate change has a direct impact on our energy supply. Traditional forms of energy supply are showing their weaknesses: nuclear power plants can no longer be cooled sufficiently and it is becoming difficult to transport coal across rivers with low water levels. That is why we should continue to build on the strengths of renewable energies in the future: their prices remain stable and affordable because they are more robust against extreme weather.
Anyone who is out in the forest has long since noticed it: the weather conditions of recent years, with heavy storms and long periods of drought, have taken their toll on our forests. You can see it especially when you walk through a spruce forest. Spruce trees in monoculture are particularly vulnerable to storms and pests such as the bark beetle. Sick forests not only look terrible, they are also a catastrophe for us humans. In Europe, over 3,6 million people are employed in forest-based activities. For many people, the forest serves as inexpensive, sometimes the only affordable local recreation. And our forests remove CO2 from the atmosphere and thus help us to counter climate change. Our forests are irreplaceable for us. That is why it is now important to manage the forests sustainably and reforest them with resistant mixed forests.
1 in 5 bird species in Europe is threatened by extinction. And that becomes expensive for us humans. Birds play a central role in the ecosystem. They provide the important dispersal of tree seeds and fight pests. Because of bird deaths, grain becomes much more expensive and with it many of our everyday foods. Here, too, it becomes clear that climate action is a social issue that concerns and affects us all. Committed climate action is needed to preserve the diversity of our bird species and to ensure affordable food prices.