A view of the virtually empty swamp that supplied water to the village of Fuente obejuna in Cordoba, Spain on May 19, 2023.
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European lawmakers have issued strong warnings against the region growing water crisis ahead of another extreme summer, while there is an urgent need to address issues such as scarcity, food security and pollution.
In a speech to the European Parliament’s plenary session entitled “Europe’s Water Crisis” on Thursday, lawmakers called for more intensive action to protect and improve water resources already affected by several years of falling groundwater levels as the climate crisis continues to intensify.
Record temperatures for spring aa historic winter heat wave have taken a visible toll on the region’s rivers and ski slopes, while protests have erupted in both over water shortages. France and Spain.
“The Copernicus satellite images act as a sad confirmation that many parts of the Union are facing major difficulties,” said European Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson during her opening speech.
“Some regions suffer from water shortages due to drought, while others suffer from floods. Most suffer from the effects of water pollution, but none of this is new.”
Simson said the EU had robust laws in place to protect water systems dating back to the 1970s, but admitted the legislation and the way it was implemented could only go so far.
“We’ve reached a point where we have to take a different approach,” she added. “Let us not be a continent that learns the value of water after the well has run dry.”
A female farmer shows a pot of water as she speaks into a microphone about the drought during a farmers’ demonstration to raise awareness of rural living conditions and declare the importance of agriculture to society and its contribution to the country’s economy, in Madrid 13/2023.
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The plenary session was held in Strasbourg, France shortly after the European Environment Agency he warned that the region faced a summer of more frequent and extreme droughts, floods, heat waves, wildfires and an increase in climate-sensitive diseases.
The EU environment agency described the overall outlook as “pessimistic” in a report published on Wednesday.
He added that while the 27 EU states and members of the European Economic Area have national adaptation policies in place, they could all do much more to limit the negative impacts of this summer’s extreme weather.
Some of the proposed measures included increasing the number of trees and bodies of water in cities – which can lower temperatures and reduce the risk of flooding – and farmers adapting crop varieties and changing sowing dates.
“We see the consequences of the climate crisis and we see it more clearly than ever. Europe is affected by drought, rivers are drying up and agriculture is under pressure, nature is suffering,” said Danish MP Christel Schaldemose on Thursday. , according to the translation.
“This is a war. A war for water,” Schaldemose said.
“We have to do everything we can to try to stop the impact of climate change and really deal with it. But it’s also crucial that we understand how to manage our drinking water.”
Sophie Trémolet, European freshwater director of environmental nonprofit The Nature Conservancy, told CNBC that the coming summer could surpass last year’s temperature records, with the likely prospect of “more hostility” over water scarcity.
However, it is not just a matter of having enough resources. Trémolet said water pollution and cost were also major concerns.
“Scarcity is one thing, but quality is also very important,” Trémolet said. “Water pollution raises costs.”
An aerial view shows a flooded pig farm and surrounding fields in the city of Lugo on May 18, 2023, after heavy rains caused flooding in northern Italy’s Emilia Romagna region.
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Satellite data analyzed by researchers at Austria’s University of Graz earlier this year found that drought has hit Europe on a much larger scale than scientists previously expected.
The study was published after EU scientists found that Europe had experienced its own the hottest summer last yearwhile this is considered an intense drought the worst the region has seen at least 500 years.
“Summer after summer, Europe suffers from water shortages – and it looks like it will only get worse. This summer could be the worst ever,” said Juan Ignacio Zoido Alvarez, a member of the European Parliament’s agriculture and rural development committee. .
Alvarez, who previously served as Spain’s interior minister, said Spain’s water resources are currently at less than 50% of their capacity.
“The combination of lack of rain and extreme temperatures threatens our food security and the economic survival of millions of farmers,” Alvarez said, as translated. He called for regional financial support measures to help the disabled.
Salvatore De Meo, another MEP who sits on the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, said agriculture was one of the sectors likely to be most affected by dwindling water resources, making food production more difficult.
“Our food security depends on the way we manage our water resources,” De Meo said, as translated.