Climate Change-Related Heat, Drought, and Flooding Are Creating Extensive Loss and Damage in Many Regions of Germany

Germany is experiencing a major impact from climate change at all levels of its economy and society resulting in considerable loss and damage. This year drought has intensified and has been classified as severe, as shown in the image below of the UFZ (Helmholtz – Zentrum für Umweltforshung) monitor, which shows the state of soil humidity. From left to right the first image shows the relative humidity in the whole soil, the second shows the soil’s upper layer, and the third image the water accessible to plants.

Image source: Drought monitor Germany (Dürremonitor Deutschland)

Although there is a good supply and availability of water, there are regional differences in the water supply. While some farmers are dealing with droughts, others suffer the consequences of heavy rainfall. Prolonged drought is causing losses in agriculture (as in Baden-Württemberg, drought destroyed numerous crops), water supply, ecosystems, and maritime transport of goods to the inner regions of Germany. The Guardian newspaper reported the low levels of water in the rivers are “Restricting the distribution of coal, petrol, wheat, and other commodities amid a looming energy crisis.” Due to the restricted river transportation, the speed of goods arriving in cities and communities is likely to slow while the prices of these same goods are likely to increase.

The heat wave in Germany has reached over 39.6°Celsius, according to the German Weather Service (DWD), in some regions this summer. In addition, intense and extreme heat is affecting vulnerable populations such as pregnant women, infants, elderly people, and those with pre-existing chronic conditions. Calculations of the Deutscher Wetterdienst predict that German mortality is expected to increase, causing 1 to 6% (5.000 deaths) for each degree Celsius increase.

On the other hand, due to climate change, other regions of Germany have suffered heavy rains with floods and landslides. The consequences of these phenomena have resulted in the loss of life and damage to homes, businesses, public institutions, and infrastructure that exceeds 30,000 million Euros.

The Book Climate Risk Management, Policy and Governance Loss and damage from climate change provides analytical insight for policymaking and implementation for bridging climate change adaptation, and disaster management. It describes a regional scenario of an increase in sea level rise in 2050 of 35 cm, and by 2100 of 85 cm.

Image source: Screenshot from the Author using Climate Central map simulator.

To understand which communities and sectors are most vulnerable to climate change, Germany created an infographic of the sectors with the greatest need for adaptation, the scale of risk, urgency of adjustment, and degree of dependency. The infographic “Need for adaptation for Climate Change in Germany” describes the five economic sectors that will be most affected and require urgent adaptation to climate change. The perspective of each sector is mid-century (2050) and also shows the impacts that it will face directly (such as the gradual increase in temperature, strong winds, droughts, heat, heavy rain, and climate extremes), as well as the level of risk that can be high, medium or low depending on the adjustments that need to be implemented;  and also the level of urgency that can be high, medium or low, depending on the level of an adaptation response.  Beginning with the infrastructure and building sector (such as facilities and transportation), the social system (such as health and performance), economic activities that do not depend on nature (such as production, trade, and services); economic activities that require nature (such as fishing, agriculture, and forestry); and natural systems and resources (such as water, soil, species, and ecosystems).”

Image source: Original from Umwelt Bundesamt. English version by the Author (adaptation for its correct understanding in English)

While climate change poses many challenges for Germany, Europe, and the rest of the world, the German Federal Environmental Agency, has provided tools to guide and inform people and their communities on how to seize the opportunities and minimize the risks of climate change. One of the tools is the Climate Navigator (“Klimalotse”) which “offers step-by-step guidance on the development of adaptation strategies for cities and municipalities.

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Germany Country Manager Maria Schuster


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