Cyprus, alongside other southern Mediterranean countries, is projected to face increased water shortages in the future due to climate change, a recent Joint Research Centre (JRC) technical report has warned.
According to the European Commission’s report “a North-South pattern emerges across Europe for water availability under a 2°C warming scenario” and urged adaptation strategies and efficiency measures to be taken.
“Southern European countries are projected to face increased water shortages, particularly Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Italy and Turkey,” the report said, while central and northern European countries are expected to have increased water resources but also increased flooding.
The study used a Water Exploitation Index (WEI) to demonstrate the discrepancies between future water demand and water availability, noting that “water demand is changing due to land use, economic, population, and climate changes”, adding that generally “people tend to consume more water if it is warmer, and if they are wealthier.”
Climate change projections show that water availability changes will be just as dynamic, the report says.
The 2C warming scenario takes into account the average water demand-availability ratio per country, the projected land use and GDP changes in its calculations of estimated future water demand.
The report showed that there will be increased pressures of 20 per cent or more on future water resources in Spain, Portugal, Malta, Italy, Ireland, Greece, Estonia, Denmark, Cyprus and Bulgaria.
“This increased pressure is a combination of changing water demands and changing water supply. So even when the demand goes down, the pressure could increase if the availability decreases even more,” the report said.
The severity of impacts under the 2°C warming scenario suggested that mitigation alone is not enough to avoid adverse climate change impacts and the report warned that adaptation strategies such as water savings and efficiency measures would be needed too.