( Clean Energy Wire ) – Germany must better prepare for the impacts of climate change, environment minister Steffi Lemke said, as a heat wave is sweeping across Europe exactly one year after deadly floods killed hundreds of people in Germany and neighbouring countries. The head of the Federal Office for Civil Protection (BBK), Ralph Tiesler, said some areas should not be resettled given climate change and the acute threat of severe weather disasters and floods. Researchers and NGOs criticise that post-flood reconstruction efforts have not sufficiently taken into account climate change. [UPDATE: adds newly published civil protection plan]
As a heat wave hits Europe exactly one year after heavy rain caused deadly floods in the centre of the continent in 2021, the focus of the public debate in Germany has again shifted to the impacts of a changing climate.
On 13 July 2022, the interior ministry announced an updated programme for a “new start in civil protection”. Interior minister Nancy Faeser said “the pandemic, extreme weather, floods, forest fires, and also the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine – all of these require us to better protect our population”. The strategy also includes plans for prevention, preparation, management and aftercare of disasters and stresses the need for early warnings. The ministry also announced that there will be a Civil Protection Day from 2023, where citizens will become better educated on how to protect themselves and others during disasters.
“Due to the consequences of the climate crisis, Germany faces so many genuine hot days that this poses a threat to nature and also to us humans, and we must prepare ourselves better for this,” environment minister Steffi Lemke told public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk in an interview. Science shows that events like droughts and heat waves will happen more frequently and become more extreme in the future, she said. Germany must act in the short term – for example by conserving water in the face of a drought – but also introduce long-term measures like helping soils store more water through renaturation, and coming up with adaptation plans for local communities.
Climate change will pose further challenges in the future, the head of the Federal Office for Civil Protection (BBK), Ralph Tiesler, told Funke Mediengruppe. “Some areas should not be resettled given climate change and the acute threat of severe weather disasters and floods.”
Tiesler said every region in Germany had to be looked at closely in terms of the need to prepare for such disasters. “We still have time to develop protective concepts against the effects of the climate crisis and to take them into account in spatial planning.”
A heat wave with temperatures of around 40°C [104° F.] has hit Europe this week, with droughts and forest fires in Spain and Portugal as the extreme weather spreads to France and other parts of the continent. , more intense and longer-lasting because of climate change. A study published this week in Nature Communications found that Western Europe has become what researchers call a heat wave hot spot over the last four decades, with events increasing in frequency and cumulative intensity, the New York Times reported.