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Thursday, November 4, 1999 Published at 18:10 GMT


Europe's climate forecast is hot

More extreme weather may lead to more insurance claims

By our Environment Correspondent Alex Kirby

Here is the European weather forecast for the next century and it has several surprises.

Average temperatures across the continent are expected to rise between 0.1 and 0.4 degrees Centigrade each decade. Very hot summers will become at least twice as frequent as they are now and perhaps 10 times more frequent.

Except in the far north of Europe, they will also be drier than they are now. By 2080, very cold winters will almost have disappeared. Across Europe, winters will become wetter by one to two percent per decade.

[ image: Farming in southern Europe may suffer . . .]
Farming in southern Europe may suffer . . .
This forecast was given to delegates attending the United Nations climate conference in Bonn, Germany. It was presented by Professor Martin Parry of the Jackson Environment Institute at the University of East Anglia, who carried out the work with Dr Wolfgang Kramer of the Potsdam Institute for Climatology.

The EU initiative is known as Acacia (A Concerted Action towards a Comprehensive Climate Impact and Adaptations Assessment). The project looked at the potential impacts of global warming and the sectors most liable to be affected if climate change occurs as many scientists anticipate.

It concluded that forestry, recreation and agriculture in Northern Europe might show appreciable gains, with smaller benefits for energy and construction sectors.

[ image:  . . . but forestry in northen Europe may benefit]
. . . but forestry in northen Europe may benefit
Minerals and mining, manufacturing and finance, it says, are likely to remain unaffected. There will be disadvantages for transport, agriculture and health in southern Europe but the greatest losses are likely to be felt by insurance, which will have more claims to deal with.

Professor Parry said climate change over the long term might aggravate existing near-term environmental problems. So the question of how to adapt to it should be factored into future policies of environmental management and economic development.

Trying to mitigate climate change by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, he said, was not enough. If the provisions of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change were implemented they would reduce the expected rise in temperature by 2050 of one to two degC by only about 0.06 degC.

Already average European temperatures were showing an increase of 0.5 degC over the last 25 years, a rise Professor Parry described as "significant".

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Fifth Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research

Jackson Environment Institute at the University of East Anglia

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