[Άρθρο που δημοσιεύθηκε στο CNN]

In January 2010, a conference on Climate Change organised by the Cyprus Institute, issued a common declaration which among other things states that “The projected annual mean temperature increase is larger than the global mean, and hot weather extremes during summer will be much more frequent and protracted”. This is in line with other predictions about the southern part of the Mediterranean and a lot of people in Cyprus feel that we are already seeing a lot of changes in our climate. Higher temperatures and more notably  decreased rainfall have caused a lot of changes in the economy and government policies.

A 2008 report of the European Environment Agency (EEA) aimed at decision makers makes specific mentions on the effects on nature and the economy due to climate change in the Mediterranean region.

With regards to tourism the report warns that as temperatures and summer weather in general are set to increase in northern Europe less people will be willing to travel abroad. An area of high temperatures and water shortage will not be an attractive place to come for holidays mid-summer. A significant warning for a country like Cyprus where 50% of the income is coming from tourism.

An increase in the number of hot weather days combined with decreased rainfall will increase the risk of forest fires and push the area faster towards desertification.

An additional warning of the EEA, that is also of major concern to the World Health Organisation is the effect of climate change on health. Deaths are associated with hot weather and new deceases might also appear in this region. Air quality has already worsen with dust particles reaching Cyprus from the Sahara and surrounding countries much more often than in the past.

More details and a lot more information is available on the Internet.

What is important for Mediterranean countries is to prepare for these changes.

We need to use water more efficiently, utilise better the water from the sewage treatment plants and find ways to introduce rain water harvesting to the population.

In order to avoid high energy bills, we also need to tighten building regulations for better energy efficiency and find ways to improve existing buildings. The EU Directives on renewable energy and efficiency together with the upcoming Directive on water use in buildings  will only provide help for the member states within the Mediterranean region.

Non EU countries in the region will not to adapt themselves and this is not an easy task as it needs technical know-how, funds and long term planning.

The droughts in the past, the frequent dust storms, the diminishing snow on the mountain top and this years excessively hot day with an all time high temperature of 460C (114.80F) has left Cypriots with no doubts that our climate is changing and the world needs to urgently agree on large CO2 reductions.