The ‘Climate’ study by the ESPON EU research programme states southern Italy is one of the European regions most vulnerable to climate change.
The ESPON EU research programme specialises in regional analysis and puts the south of Italy alongside Spain and Portugal in the west and Bulgaria, Romania and Poland in the east as the European regions most exposed to climate change.
The ‘Climate’ study started with the analysis of the exposure and sensibility to climate change of each of Europe’s regions.
Lots of factors affect sensibility to climate change
The researchers explain that sensibility to climate change depends on a combination of a region’s physical, environmental, social, cultural and economic characteristics.
Both of these elements, exposure and sensibility, contribute to determining the impact of climate change on a region. The capacity to adapt will help lessen the effects.
The study explains the result of these variables gives the potential vulnerability of a given region.
Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein are of “low or marginal vulnerability”, in part because of their relatively high adaptation capacity. Meanwhile, developed areas such as north Italy, France, Austria, Belgium, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, have an “at least average vulnerability”. This was shown in part by the recent disasters caused by extraordinary rainfall.
Impact in metropolitan regions high
In general, the study shows the impact of climate change in metropolitan European regions will tend to be high. This is because of the high concentration of population, infrastructure and cultural heritage, as well as the fact that these areas often feature rivers or are along the coast.
However, they generally have a greater capacity to adapt than non-metropolitan regions, which makes these areas less vulnerable to climate change. There are some exceptions in coastal cities, the Alps and southern-eastern Europe.
Rural areas vary
The question is more varied for rural areas, with those in central and northern Europe facing low-level or marginal variations and, in some cases, positive ones as the climate conditions only worsen slightly in them or are more favourable.
The rural areas of southern Europe, on the other hand, are hit harder because of their hotter, drier climates.
The researchers also put mountainous regions among the most vulnerable areas. In particular they mention Greece and Spain along with Alpine regions and coastal areas, especially those on the Mediterranean and on the south of the North Sea.
Lowly populated areas of northern Europe will mainly suffer the effects of greater rainfall and related problems such as rivers breaking their banks.