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LIFE-IP AdaptInGR – Bank of Greece: Preliminary results of the studies on the vulnerability assessment and the impact of climate change in Greece

LIFE-IP AdaptInGR – Bank of Greece: Preliminary results of the studies on the vulnerability assessment and the impact of climate change in Greece

Author: adaptivegreece adaptivegreece/Friday, December 15, 2023/Categories: News

The Βank of Greece, in the context of the research work of the Climate Change Impacts Study Committee (CCISC) and the eight-year Project LIFE-IP AdaptInGR (2019-2026), announced today the preliminary results of the update of the report “The Economic, social and environmental impacts of climate change in Greece”, which formed the basis for the development of the Greek National Adaptation Strategy in 2015.

During the event, new climate models (up until 2100) were presented, along with the estimated impact of climate change on critical sectors, such as agriculture and transportation, and a first vulnerability assessment of climate change in Greece. By the end of 2024, the updated final report will be released, including, among other things, the expected changes in the climate for the next decades, the impact of climate change on the most vulnerable sectors of economic activity, a vulnerability assessment of climate change for the Greek economy and a cost assessment of climate change in Greece.

The Project “LIFE-IP AdaptInGR – Boosting the implementation of adaptation policy across Greece”, in which the Bank of Greece participates, is the most important Project for adapting Greece to climate change, coordinated by the Ministry of Environment and Energy and implemented with the participation of 18 strategic beneficiaries from the public sector, local government, the academic community and non-governmental organisations. The Project is co-financed by the LIFE Programme of the European Union and the Green Fund and aims to catalyse the implementation of the Greek National Adaptation Strategy and the 13 Regional Adaptation Action Plans, preparing their revision after 2026, with appropriate actions at a national, regional and local level.

The Governor of the Bank of Greece Yannis Stournaras, in his opening remarks, noted that: “The Bank of Greece, continuing its work on climate and sustainability, announces today the preliminary results of the new studies of the Climate Change Impacts Study Committee (CCISC) on the developments in climate change, vulnerability and impacts. In 2011, the CCISC published estimates introducing a new approach to climate change in Greece. During these past years, humanity faced multiple challenges that affected geopolitical, financial and social stability, with climate change emerging as the most important challenge of our time. I hope the announcement of the preliminary results will contribute to the discussion on adaptation and, above all, strengthen climate action in Greece”.

The General Secretary of Natural Environment and Water, Ministry of Environment and Energy Petros Varelidis noted that: “Climate change is here and we have already had a taste of its consequences. Greece needs to increase the resilience of its critical infrastructures, and do even more, so as to mitigate the impacts of extreme weather events. To this end, we will soon be modifying the specifications of a number of construction projects and buildings and integrate vulnerability into climate change and measures required to increase the resilience of the projects into the requirements of the Environmental Impact Assessment”.

Participants also included:

- Christos Zerefos, Secretary General of the Academy of Athens, Climate Envoy for Greece,

- Andreas Karamanos, Full Member of the Academy of Athens, Professor Emeritus, Agricultural University of Athens,

- George Giannopoulos, Professor Emeritus, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Corresponding Member of the Academy of Athens,

- Anastasios Xepapadeas, Professor, University of Bologna, Professor Emeritus, Athens University of Economics and Business,

- Theodora Antonakaki, Director, Climate Change and Sustainability Centre, Bank of Greece.

Vulnerability assessment and the impacts of climate change in Greece – Preliminary Results

The updated climate projections:

- The average temperature until the middle of the century is projected to increase, compared to the reference period (1971-2000), by 1.2°C to 2°C depending on the greenhouse gas emissions scenario, the upper bound to be reached in the no-action scenario. The 2050s mark a turning point beyond which man-made climate change becomes irreversible. During the post-2060 period, the increase in average temperature is estimated to reach approximately 2°C to 5°C, depending on the emission scenarios.

- There will be a significant increase in the number of heatwave days in the lowlands, by up to 10-15 days by mid-century and up to 30-50 days, if measures to reduce CO2 emissions are not taken, by 2100.

- Our country and the broader Mediterranean region are among the few areas on the planet that are expected to experience reduced rainfall in the future. Significant reduction in rainfall is expected after 2050, especially in the southern parts of the country.

 

- Drier conditions due to reduced rainfall and fewer rainy days, combined with rising temperatures, will result in our country shifting towards a drier climate. As a consequence, around 40% of Greece, especially in the eastern and the southern parts, may face desertification by the end of the century, if global measures to limit greenhouse gases are not taken.

- An increase in the frequency of extreme heavy rainfall events is expected in future climates, more pronounced as fewer measures are taken and as we move towards the end of the 21st century.

- Also expected is a rise in the number of days with an increased risk of wildfires, by 10 to 20 wildfire days by mid-century and by 15 to 50 days towards the end of the century, especially in areas most prone to forest fires.

- The impacts of rising sea levels will be significant as well. Based on model estimates until the mid-century, sea levels are expected to rise by 15 to 20 centimetres and until the end of the century by 20 to 80 centimetres, depending on emission trends, with implications, among other things, for agriculture in coastal areas.

Climate change impacts in Agriculture – The case of Thessaly

Predictions of climate change impacts on soil resources and the principal field crops (cotton, wheat and maize) in the Region of Thessaly, Central Greece, are presented. The assessments were based on three areas (Trikala, Zappeio and Sotirio) representing to a significant extent the climatological and soil conditions of Thessaly.

The main findings can be summarised as follows:

- Climate change is predicted to accelerate desertification through soil erosion and salinisation, leading to a restriction of arable land.

- Maize and cotton crop yields are predicted to fall by 41.7% and 34.2%, respectively, and wheat production to rise by 13.4% in the RCP8.5 scenario by the end of the century.

- In deep soils, a decrease in the yields of maize and cotton by 29.3% and 29.6%, respectively, and an increase in the yields of wheat by 68.6% are predicted in the most severe greenhouse gas (GHG) emission scenario (RCP8.5) towards the end of the present century.

- In sloping areas and shallow soils (less than 60 cm), the yields of cotton and maize are predicted to fall to zero, whereas the yields of wheat to remain low, by the middle of the century in both the RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 scenarios.

- Further decreases in the yields production of all three crops by 3.6% are predicted in eroded soils.

A number of adaptation measures to tackle the adverse climate change impacts in the Region of Thessaly are proposed:

- Implementing soil conservation practices in sloping lands and reclamation measures in soils of high salinisation risk.

- Reducing maize and cotton cultivation in plain and deep soils, whereas wheat and forage crops can be profitable even in hilly and eroded lands.

- Adjusting planting time later for winter crops and earlier for spring crops.

- Cultivating spring crops with shorter life cycles in order to save irrigation water.

- Implementing new strategies of irrigation water use, with emphasis on surface rather than underground water, and building appropriate anti-flooding infrastructures.

- Adopting a holistic strategy for managing floods in the plain areas.   

Update of the study on impacts and adaptation to climate change – Transport sector

This study presented the estimated impacts in the field of transport in Greece and the proposed adaptation measures. The impacts of climate change in the transport sector are distinguished in two categories:

- Direct (primary) impacts: Damages that lead to the need for reconstruction, repairs, or increased needs for maintenance from the rise of the average sea level, high temperatures and flooding phenomena (e.g. damages, increased need for maintenance or restoration of road, rail, port and air infrastructures, increased need for construction of new embankments or other structures, increased cost for the protection of existing ones). There will also be a reduced need for prevention and maintenance due to the lower number of frost and icing incidents.

- Indirect (secondary) impacts: Mainly in the operation of the transport system, through the increased overall cost of travel or the reduction of road safety from the rise in the average sea level, high temperatures and flooding phenomena (e.g. delays, postponements of services, danger of accidents due to reduced adhesion, cutting-off – or reduction of accessibility – of  areas due to the inability to operate services, supply chain disruptions and changes in demand). Also, it is foreseen that there will be a reduction of accidents and delays due to a decrease in the number of frost and icing periods and reduced needs for heating of transport vehicles due to higher average temperatures. 

The study proposes a set of measures for the adaptation of the transport sector and the management of the impacts of climate change, including:

- Creation of a National Observatory of the impacts of climate change on the transport sector (for compiling statistics on system operation and impacts).

- Further development of analytical models for the evaluation of transport infrastructures as regards their vulnerability and importance (critical links).

- Investigation and prioritisation of transport infrastructure projects so as to minimise the vulnerability of the national transport system.

- Development of national traffic management plans and evacuation plans in areas of vulnerability.

- Construction of the necessary projects for the protection of critical transport infrastructures (e.g. drainage, raising of port quay platform levels, raising of road/rail/air infrastructures that are near and vulnerable to the sea level rise).

- Review of the existing planning standards of transport infrastructures taking into account the parameters of climate change.

- Planning and adoption of policies and measures to reduce transport demand such as teleworking, car or vehicle sharing, implementation of mobility management measures in large enterprises or the transportation of students.

Vulnerability to climate change in the regions of Greece

The study assesses vulnerability to climate change, in order to contribute to designing an effective national climate change adaptation policy. The study develops a vulnerability assessment methodology, combining physical and socio-economic characteristics and events related to climate change. The presented preliminary results on vulnerability, are related to wild fires and transport.

Regarding wildfires, the characteristics of these events include the number of wildfires that burnt 100-500, 500-1,000, 1000-10,000 and more than 10,000 stremmata of forest and forestland.[4] The number of wildfires was linked to size, population, Gross Domestic Product (GDP), per capita GDP and GDP inequality index for the respective region.[5]

Regarding wildfires, the results of the study show:

 -Relatively higher vulnerability per size, resident, overall GDP and per capita GDP in Central Greece, Western Greece and the Peloponnese, while Eastern Macedonia and Thrace show high vulnerability based on the unequal distribution of GDP per capita between regions of the country. Attica shows the highest vulnerability based on size and population density.

- The expected number of wildfires increases in both IPCC [6] scenarios (RCP 4.5 and 8.5) up until 2100. This suggests that vulnerabilities in absolute terms are expected to increase, while they are expected to remain stable in comparative terms based on the size of each region. Vulnerabilities based on socio-economic aspects will depend on GDP and population developments.

Regarding transportation, the vulnerability assessment of the road and rail networks was based upon the results of the respective study and shows that:

- The highest relative vulnerability, both overall and per kilometre of network for both IPCC scenarios (RCP 4.5 and 8.5), is seen in Eastern Greece, followed by Western and then Central Greece.

The methodological framework developed for wildfires and transportation is suitable for analysing the multifaceted vulnerability of Greece's regions to more impacts of climate change, such as heatwaves, floods, desertification and chronic GDP loss. Effective adaptation policy at a regional level based on vulnerability analysis can be an economic growth driver, especially in regions of high socio-economic vulnerability and relatively low GDP per capita.

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The Ministry of Environment & Energy

General Directorate for Environmental Policy
Climate Change & Air Quality Directorate

Climate Change Department

Address: 147 Patission Str., 112 51, Athens, Greece

Tel.: 210.8643.015

adapt@prv.ypeka.gr