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The official charged with defending Greece’s capital from the results of rising temperatures has criticised the “felony lack of preparedness” by the world’s political leaders, because the Mediterranean area endures one of many hottest summers on report.
Eleni Myrivili, chief warmth officer of Athens, mentioned the fires that had reached the outskirts of town and devastated greater than 120,000 hectares of the Aegean nation have been solely a foretaste of what was to return.
“That is . . . the start of an irreversible devastation, a ravaging of ecosystems and livelihoods, on account of local weather change and the felony lack of preparedness for excessive warmth,” she mentioned in an interview with the Monetary Occasions.
“Greece, in addition to the remainder of the world, had higher construct some critical resilience to warmth quick as a result of this summer time is just the start.”
The complete Mediterranean area has battled waves of devastating wildfires this summer time, from Turkey to France, Italy and Spain, in addition to north Africa.
Specialists say record-breaking heatwaves exacerbated by local weather change are the primary motive, though a number of individuals have additionally been arrested on suspicion of arson in relation to the blazes in Greece. The most popular-ever recorded temperature for Europe, 48.8C, was registered in Sicily final week.
Athens is amongst a small group of cities which have appointed a devoted chief warmth officer to supply a focus for the response to rising temperatures, together with Miami-Dade County within the US and Freetown, capital of Sierra Leone.
Myrivili serves as mayoral adviser and chief resilience officer for Athens in addition to interim chief warmth officer, getting ready Europe’s hottest capital metropolis for the extra frequent heatwaves.
Fires have burnt on the edges of Athens, a metropolis of just about 4m inhabitants, for a number of weeks, and continued to threaten the capital on Wednesday. Extreme wildfires have additionally destroyed properties and livelihoods on Evia, Greece’s second-largest island.
Whereas excessive warmth was the most important menace that accompanied local weather change, “there’s little or no preparation . . . no one has been getting ready cities for international warming”, Myrivili mentioned.
On the identical time, the dimensions of this summer time’s fires gave a chance for policymakers to reply. “If it wasn’t for the fires we wouldn’t have issues the media might report on,” she mentioned, declaring that different results, corresponding to heat-related deaths, have been much less seen and infrequently extra drawn out.
“Heatwaves have to be extra particular within the minds of individuals — they’re not seen,” she mentioned.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Greece’s prime minister, has authorised a €500m aid bundle, after initially having to apologise for delays within the firefighting efforts. He has additionally appointed a brand new minister in command of restoration from pure disasters.
In an interview with CNN final weekend, he described the fires in Greece as “a wake-up name” to drastically change electrical energy manufacturing, development, farming and transport. “This has to occur and we have to begin now,” he mentioned.
Greater than 970 cities world wide will expertise common summertime highs of 35C by 2050, in accordance with the C40 coalition of world cities. This in contrast with just a little greater than a 3rd of that quantity at the moment. The variety of the world’s inhabitants uncovered to such temperatures can also be set to rise to 1.6bn, a bounce of 800 per cent.
“We’re in a disaster, we noticed it this summer time, and individuals are struggling,” Myrivili mentioned. “We now have to verify we defend essentially the most susceptible. It’s all the time essentially the most susceptible that need to cope with it.”
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