“Climate crisis on our coasts”: Mediterranean countries sign an agreement after a summer of fires | Extreme weather conditions
While the catastrophic effects of this summer’s unprecedented forest fires are still being accounted for, leaders around the Mediterranean – the European region most threatened by climate degradation – have pledged to step up their efforts to address the challenges posed by climate change. extreme weather conditions.
A joint declaration, signed in Athens, kicked off what will hopefully bring about a radical change in the way neighboring states strengthen their defenses against natural disasters.
“This is the first time that Mediterranean countries have come together to face such an incredible common threat and it is extremely important,” said the head of the heat of the Greek capital, Eleni Myrivili, of the initiative.
“So far, we have been toddlers in our response to building climate resilience through transnational collaboration,” she said. “What has just been agreed, both in breadth and depth, is a game-changer.”
At no other time has the specter of a climate catastrophe seemed so real in a region which in recent months has been forced to contend with forest fires from the Spanish region of Andalusia to southern Spain. Turkey. Leaders from nine southern EU countries recognized that urgent and ambitious global action is now needed to create “a secure, secure, prosperous, just and sustainable future”. Collaboration at all levels – national, regional and local, stimulated by civil society and the private sector – was needed, they said.
“The devastating summer forest fires had tragic consequences for Mediterranean countries… the climate crisis is no longer a distant threat; it has landed firmly on our shores, ”Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told his counterparts in the Greek capital.
“As the danger presented by this crisis is common to all of us, so must our defenses. “
Signed Friday evening at a summit attended by the heads of state of France, Spain, Italy, Portuguese, Cypriot, Maltese, Slovenian and Croatian, the Athens declaration contains commitments in key areas of the climate crisis.
Biodiversity, forest management, marine environment and civil protection, prevention and preparedness were distinguished by participants who also called for closer integration of climate change policies across Europe and to further cooperation within the EU transnational disaster response mechanism. Experts and technologies essential to ecosystem recovery should be exchanged, they said, given the longer, more frequent and more intense heat waves, droughts, floods and wildfires the region faced. .
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who was also present, called the climate initiative “the right decision at the right time”. “We all see that climate change is heavily affecting the Mediterranean region,” she said. “And we have to find solutions and we can come up with solutions. “
Athens is by far the hottest metropolis in mainland Europe, and it is predicted that it could become the continent’s first uninhabitable capital if temperatures continue to rise.
Mitsotakis’ center-right government has come under heavy criticism for its handling of the fires that erupted as record-breaking heat waves turned dry land into what the leader described as a “powder keg”. Mercury reached an all-time high of 47.1 ° C (116.8 ° F) with temperatures exceeding 42 ° C for several days in July and August, forcing massive evacuations as thousands of acres of virgin forest and farmland were consumed by the flames.
In the northern suburbs of Athens, the island of Evia and the southern Peloponnese, houses were razed and animals killed in hells fanned by high winds that raged for days. With his administration on the defensive, the Greek Prime Minister has sought to put the climate crisis at the center of his agenda, appointing a minister, Christos Stylianides, who will deal exclusively with the climate crisis while taking a pioneering role in the mobilization of regional support. to face the problem.
But Myrivili – Europe’s first urban heat manager, tasked with tackling the scorching heat that cities like the Greek capital are expected to experience in the years to come – said the absence in the manifesto of any mention of the role of cities in the fight against climate degradation was a “shocking oversight. She argued that the absence of cities in the declaration” betrays the lack of coordination that still exists between national government policies and municipal policies on climate change Urban centers and their communities are an integral part of any solution.