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Climate chaos threatens Germany, experts warn

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Climate chaos threatens Germany, experts warn
Flooding in Bavaria in 2013. Photo: DPA
15:24 CET+01:00
Ever-more heat waves and floods will hit Germany over the coming century, posing serious challenges to the country's agriculture and economy, a new analysis predicts.

That is the result of a so-called vulnerability study by 16 state agencies which analyses effects of climate change on Germany over the coming century and will be used as the basis for government decisions on how best to react.

“In light of the upcoming climate conference and current warnings about the possible consequences of climate change it is clear that we must not only achieve de-carbonization by 2050, we also need to make Germany more secure,” said Rita Schwarelühr-Stutter, parliamentary secretary at the Environment Ministry.

In a little over a week the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 21) is set to get under way in Paris, with a stated objective of achieving for the first time a binding and universal deal on CO2 emissions.

The results of the German study show that the effects of climate change will vary across the Bundesrepublik.

East Germany and the Rhine valley will be especially vulnerable to heat waves. The researchers expect the number of days in a year when the temperature peaks over 30 C to rise from the current 8 to 12 to between 15 and 25 per year by the middle of the century.

The north German lowlands, meanwhile, will be particularly vulnerable to flooding from rivers bursting their banks, whereas the south will be affected by floods caused by torrential rain.

For German agriculture, climate change is set to be a double-edged sword, claims the study.

Droughts in the spring and summer will become more common, having an effect on the type of plants farmers will be able to grow.

But at the same time farmers could be set to profit, as a longer growing season would allow them to produce soybeans, sorghum and other plants which thrive in warmer climates.

“The results show what makes us vulnerable, what we should prepare for, and which regions will be particularly affected,” said Maria Krautzberger, President of the Federal Climate Agency (UBA).

“For the first time in this vulnerability analysis, socio-economic scenarios such as the changes in how we use land, as well as economic and demographic changes that will affect Germany have been considered,” she added.

Germany has been one of the countries making the most noise about climate change, with Chancellor Angela Merkel's "energy transition" (Energiewende) policy committing it to an 80-95 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
 
At the G7 meeting in Bavaria earlier this year, Merkel brought together the world's leading industrialized nations to agree on a target of two degrees of warming - the maximum experts from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) say would be bearable.
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