Flood damage to European coast rises by 11 billion per year

Published: 31 March 2014

If no additional steps are taken, flood damage to the European coast could increase by 11 billion a year. The number of people affected will also increase. This means that flooding has now been identified as the first of the three leading risks for Europe associated with climate change. This is one of the findings stated in the latest report from UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was published today. Researcher Laurens Bouwer of Deltares was one of the few Dutch people to be involved in writing the report.

Investment in strengthening dikes

Laurens Bouwer was a lead author for the chapter on Europe. The conclusion, when the comparison is made with the previous report from six years ago, is that a lot has already been done in Europe in areas including policymaking and information. Europe is also at the fore of adaptation measures such as improvements in flood risk management because of the expertise and resources in place. However, if additional adaptation measures are not introduced in time, damage to the European coast could increase by €11 billion a year. The rise of the population in vulnerable coastal areas also means that the risks are on the rise. By investing in areas such as dike upgrades and by limiting population build-up where possible, it will be possible to considerably limit these effects by making relatively small investments amounting to approximately €3.5 billion annually. However, there is a difficulty in that not all areas lend themselves to the construction of additional dikes or dike upgrades. Furthermore, some countries in Europe have not given priority to these adaptation measures.

Other IPCC reports

The report is the second part of a series of reports from the IPCC. Part I looks at meteorological factors and Part III at mitigating emissions. This second part specifically targets the impacts of climate change. The other two principal risks for Europe are drought and heat waves. The IPCC produces a new series of reports about climate change every six years.

For more information:

You can download the summary of the report from the IPCC website.