Just as the spotlight is on Copenhagen and the hope of a major international agreement on the climate, France (where the average temperature increased almost one degree between 1901 and 2000) is taking a close look on the consequences of climate warming in the country. The objective is the measure the effects and cost of climate change for the next 20 to 50 years.
As part of that analysis, the French National Observatory on the Effects of Climate Warming (ONERC) has just submitted its third report to Jean-Louis Borloo, the French Minister for Ecology. Produced by some 200 experts in the administrative services concerned and in conjunction with research organisations and stakeholders in the private sector, the work has produced results for ten key sectors: natural risks, water resources, biodiversity, health, road infrastructures, agriculture, forestry, energy, tourism and regional development.
The report indicates that the annual costs related to climate change could reach several billion euros if adaptive measures are not quickly taken.
The Government may have to face a number of major challenges in every economic sector, including rising water levels in certain regions (Languedoc-Roussillon in particular), water shortages in others, housing and infrastructures in floodable areas, weakened road infrastructures, disrupted tourist seasons, forest fires or repeated heat waves …
As far as the rarefaction of water resources is concerned, while the demand for water will remain identical, the report estimates that in 2050, there could be an annual shortage in drinking water of some 2 billion cubic metres (out of 32 billion m3). The areas most affected will be the same as today, beginning with the whole of the South-west of France, and could result in increasing numbers of conflicts of use between farmers, manufacturers and private individuals.
Rising sea levels will incur major costs in certain areas: in Languedoc-Roussillon alone, thousands of houses will be concerned with a cost evaluated at several tens of billions of euros. Similarly, the damage caused by drought to houses built on clay soil could increase the cost of repairs from 220 million euros a year to 700 million, and even 1.3 billion euros by 2100, according to the most pessimistic scenarios.
To face the situation, several possible types of adaptive measures have been identified that could limit the negative effects of climate change. Most of the measures, however, depend to a great degree on regional characteristics, and will therefore have to be individually examined at the local level.
The data compiled by the report and the possible adaptive measures it proposes will be used to launch a national plan for adaptation to climate change by 2011, in accordance with the framework plan laid down during the Grenelle Environmental Summit.
For more information:
- Download the complete version of the ONERC report (in French)
- Visit the website of the French Ministry of Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development and the Sea (in French)
- Read the article in l’Express.fr dated 10/11/09 (in French)
- Read the article in the Figaro dated 06/11/09 (in French)
- Read the AFP wire dated 05/11/09 (in French)