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Mediterranean Leaders Unite to Fight Climate Crisis

Mediterranean climate crisis
“Extreme natural phenomena are destroying the ecosystem and threatening our daily life, our way of life,”  Mediterranean leaders said. Credit: AMNA

Presidents of Mediterranean nations Greece, Italy, Croatia, Malta, Portugal and Slovenia have issued a joint statement calling for urgent action to address the dangers posed by the climate crisis.

In their appeal, the presidents noted the severity of the climate crisis in southern Europe, with the region having to deal with scorching heatwaves, wildfires, and floods recently.

For example, July 2023 was one of the warmest on record in Greece. Average maximum temperatures were considerably higher than averages in the years 2010 to 2019. For most regions, it was the warmest July in the last fourteen years, with the greatest deviations in temperatures recorded on the island of Crete.

“The climate crisis that brought us this unprecedented heat wave is here. It’s not a theory. It is our actual experience,” Vassilis Kikilias, the Greek minister for climate change and civil protection said recently.

“This is not something that will just occur this year. It will last and we have to face the consequences of what that means.”

Mediterranean climate crisis

Mediterranean leaders fear that continued extreme summers will impact the tourism industry and their harvests, two vital pillars of the region.

“Extreme natural phenomena are destroying the ecosystem and threatening our daily life, our way of life,” said the statement.

The presidents have pledged their full support and have also called on the European Union, other Mediterranean nations and the international community to focus on the issue.

“There is no more time to waste, no more room for compromise due to political or economic reasons. It is imperative to act and take urgent, effective initiatives.

“All Mediterranean countries must coordinate and unite in a collective effort to halt and reverse the effects of the climate crisis.”

The initiative was launched by Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou on a phone call with Italian President Sergio Mattarella, and was then extended to Croatian President Zoran Milanovic, Malta’s President George Vella, Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, and Slovenian President Natasa Pirc Musar.

A recent UN report warned that the Mediterranean region, home to more than 510 million people, is warming 20% faster than the global average.

The report said that the impact of the warming will exert additional pressure on already strained ecosystems and on vulnerable economies and societies.

It added:

  • Coastal zones face heightened disaster risks, including flooding and erosion, and the salinization of river deltas and aquifers that sustain food security and livelihoods.
  • By 2050, water demand is projected to double or even triple.
  • 2°C global warming will reduce precipitation by ~10 to 15%.
  • An increase of 2°C to 4°C would reduce precipitation by up to 30% in Southern Europe.
  • Water temperature is expected to rise by between 1.8°C and 3.5°C by 2100 with hotspots in Spain and in in the Eastern Mediterranean.

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