Cyprus will be faced with more intense heat waves, droughts and perhaps even new diseases, Professor Costas Papanikolas, President of the Cyprus Institute (CyI) told CNA in an interview, stressing the importance of the recent International Conference on Climate Change, organised recently by the institute in Cyprus.
In his interview, Papanikolas said that Cyprus, being the only EU country in the Middle East, can and should undertake a primary coordinating, regional role in addressing the fallout from climate change, with the CyI being at the core of this effort. Papanikolas said that this was the primary outcome of the International Conference on Climate Change.
He said the conference had proposed a specific timetable for actions to be taken by the CyI the results of which would be presented at the United Nations Climate Change Special Session in the autumn of 2019.
The wider Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean region was the world`s most vulnerable region to climate change and warned that the phenomena in Cyprus would increase in intensity and frequency.
The first signs of the effects of climate change were already visible: extreme weather conditions (fires, floods, heat waves), increase in average temperature and reduction of rainfall, he said. “Unfortunately these phenomena will increase in intensity and frequency,” he warned.
“We should be ready to see an impact on our forests, prolonged drought and heat waves, possible visits by unwanted visitors on our shores (e.g. jellyfish) which may impact tourism, even perhaps diseases that have not been of concern to us in the past (eg West Nile virus).”
He said the magnitude and impact of climate change was just beginning to be understood in detail in order to come up with plans to address the issue. Papanikolas said that although the long-term measures to tackle the problem were widely known, namely the limitation of greenhouse gas emissions, nevertheless the plans to deal with individual impact, eg. on agriculture and livestock, tourism or immigration were not known.
“There is a great need to coordinate scientific activities and actions to deal with the repercussions of climate change in the future,” he said.
Referring to the role of Cyprus, he said that the primary conclusion of the conference was that Cyprus, being the only EU country in the Middle East, can and should undertake a leading coordinating role and that the Cyprus Institute can be at the core of this effort.
“The Cyprus Institute is recognised internationally as a regional centre of excellence on the study of climate change”, he said, adding that its work would be extended to the field of scientific co-operation and actions and policies to address their impact at a regional level.
He added that the CyI was already coordinating the actions of the global ‘Future Earth’ network for the Middle East and North Africa.