Photo: / Luca Sartoni CC BY-SA

A 1.5°C target is needed to save the Mediterranean region

Climate change is a threat to the Mediterranean sea and surrounding countries. This is featured in a recent short documentary produced by AirClim and SEE.NET.

The Mediterranean region is expected to see “particularly strong increases in dryness” in a 2°C world compared to a 1.5°C world and is threatened by ocean acidification, says the new IPCC 1.5°C report. Several other scientific reports show that the region will suffer from 1–2°C global warming and that climate change is already a security risk. An expert group including the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) – warns of security risks as a result of the effects on more than 50 million people in Iraq and Syria due to prolonged heat waves, erratic precipitation, higher than average temperatures and increased disaster intensity. Similar threats exist for many countries around the Medirerranean sea, e.g. in Turkey and in Spain. Other scientists from the region warn that if global CO2 emissions into the atmosphere continue unabated, future ocean acidification and increased water temperatures pose a threat to the Mediterranean Sea and will negatively impact its biodiversity and productivity, and in turn impact key social and economic services it provides to human communities in the region (e.g. shellfish aquaculture, fisheries and tourism). Another recently published study warns of rising sea levels threatening some of the planet’s most valuable historic sites that are located in the region and could by 2100 face damage or outright destruction in a warming world. The scientists who surveyed 49 world heritage sites in the Mediterranean report that 47 of them are at some degree of risk from future sea level rise.

The IPCC 1.5°C special report confirms many of these threats for the region: “the level of ocean acidification due to increasing CO2 concentrations associated with global warming of 1.5°C is projected to amplify the adverse effects of warming, and even further at 2°C, impacting the growth, development, calcification, survival, and thus abundance of a broad range of species, e.g., from algae to fish”. For 39 plant species in the Mediterranean region, shifts in phenology, range contraction, health decline have been observed because of precipitation decrease and temperature increase. The report finds that only if global warming is constrained to 1.5°C can biome shifts unprecedented in the last 10,000 years be avoided – whilst 2°C warming results in a decrease of 12–15 per cent in the Mediterranean biome area.

Environmental NGOs in south-eastern Europe are very concerned about the effects of climate change in the region. Friends of the Earth Croatia (Zelena Akcija) is cooperating closely with SEE.NET, a network of south-eastern European environmental CSOs on natural resources, energy and transport, which includes most environmental organisations in the Balkan region. In a short film produced by AirClim/SEE.NET, members of SEE.NET express their concerns and demands about climate change during a seminar at Zelena Akcija’s Solar Academy on the island of Šolta in Croatia, and two marine biologists from the University of Barcelona and Split explain in the film the threats to fisheries from ocean acidification and climate change.

Reinhold Pape

Link to film:
Climate news network, 12 November 2018, Iraq’s climate stresses are set to worsen,
Climate news network, 25 October 2018, Historic sites face risk from rising seas,
Spiegel online, 17 October 2018, Versinken Ferrara und Venedig im Meer?
Impacts of ocean acidification in a warming Mediterranean Sea: An overview


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