Cyprus can play a role in monitoring climate change, WMO General Secretary tells CNA

Cyprus can have a role to play in issues concerning climate change by building up a new station to monitor the effects, General Secretary of the World Meteorological Organisation, Petteri Taalas told CNA.

In statements to the Cyprus News Agency on the sidelines of the International Conference on Climate Change entitled Climate Change in the Mediterranean and Middle East, challenges and solutions that began on Friday in Nicosia, Taalas underlined the urgency to start implementing the Paris Agreement and expressed hope that the Conference in Nicosia will motivate the policy makers to take more action.

Taalas told CNA that Cyprus will have a role to play, by building up a new station to monitor the effects of climate change.

We have to strengthen the scientific basis and we are discussing how to improve the observing systems of Cyprus. There is a plan to establish a new observing sighting in Cyprus to monitor the greenhouse gases he continued.

Referring to the region, he pointed out that the Mediterranean is one of those regions to suffer the most because of climate change.

The effects of climate change, he said, are visible, noting the higher temperatures, the evaporation and the even more frequent drought.

This trend, he noted, will continue.

Taalas said that this trend will have a great impact on the society as well.

This will mean great difficulties for agriculture and it may have an impact on tourism if temperatures are too high and nature is not so green. This is of concern.

He recalled the refugee problems because of intensified drought in the Middle East and African countries.

Noting that drought in Africa will be increasing and at the same time population in Africa will grow, he said that the potential for refugee flows is rapidly growing.

‘We expect to see 4 billion inhabitants in Africa by the end of the century and now we have one billion. So the potential for refugees is rapidly growing and this is a matter of concern, he stressed.

Meanwhile, in his speech at the Conference, Taalas said that 2017 was a record breaking year in economic losses as regards climate disasters, and said that climate change brings more humidity, more rain, more tropical storms, and drought in other areas.

The Conference is organized by the Cyprus Institute (CyI) and is under the aegis of the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, with support from the Representation of the European Commission in Cyprus.

It will address the scientific basis of Climate Change in the region and its various impacts and challenges on issues of Health, Water, Food, Tourism, and Migration. Mitigation and adaptation strategies, policy challenges and governance will also be discussed at the conference, with an overall goal of providing high-level propositions for mitigation/ adaptation strategies.

Speaking at the Conference, Abdalah Mokssit, Secretary of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, referred to the work of the IPCC which is a UN body for assessing the science related to climate changes. The IPCC’s work has shown that warming trends and increasing temperature extremes have been observed across most of the Mediterranean region, water scarcity and food security are expected to be challenges. He said that we have the means to limit climate change and build a more prosperous future.

In his speech at the conference, Vladimir Ryabinin, Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, said that climate change affects life in the oceans as well. There is sea level rise, arctic sea ice reduction, phytoplankton decline, habitat destruction, he said, stressing that the world is running out of time to save and sustainably manage its oceans. As regards the Mediterranean, he said that heat waves have a strong factor in destabilisation in the sea. He also talked about tropicalization of the Mediterranean, loss of biodiversity, affected ecosystems and habitats.

Filippo Giorgi from the International Center for Theoretical Physics, (ICTP) said that the temperature in the Mediterranean region could rise by up to 6 degrees as a result of global warming. In the future, he said, summers in the region will be drier and hotter, while intensity of extreme events will go up. ‘There are consistent indications of much drier and warmer climate conditions for he Mediterranean in the coming decades, especially during the warm seasons, he went on to say. Giorgi noted that these changes can have severe impacts on a range of ecosystem services and societal sectors.

Nikos Mihalopoulos, from the Cyprus Institute, spoke about air pollution saying that the pollution is due to tiny particles which sometimes could enter the human body and become toxic. He noted that there is a relation between air pollution and premature mortality and said that in Greece it is estimated that there are 4,200 premature deaths per year.

Referring to the Mediterranean, he noted that it is a cross road of air masses. Pollution from Europe, dust of Sahara and air pollution from Asia, meet in the Mediterranean. There is, he said, a complex chemistry above the Mediterranean. What is needed, he added, is continuous monitoring of atmospheric composition and said that this is done at the Cyprus institute.

CNA is media sponsor of the event.

Source: Cyprus News Agency