As the planet registered the hottest day ever recorded in its history, one wonders if humanity and Cyprus are prepared for the upcoming consequences

By Natasa Ioannou

The planet reached a new record in July 2023. The hottest day was recorded since the beginning of data collection. The Copernicus Climate Change Service of the European Union confirmed that this milestone of global temperatures was also recorded in their data, which goes back to 1940.
Heatwaves and temperatures soaring to unprecedented levels are signalling once more a warning for the looming climate crisis.
These alarming events should serve as a wake-up call to global and national policymakers and decision-makers, compelling them to take immediate action to mitigate the impacts of the climate crisis and safeguard our environment and future generations. Scientists continuously stress that the climate crisis is driven by the burning of fossil fuels, which continue to emit over 40 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually.
The alarming new impacts of the climate crisis:
The extreme temperatures witnessed in July, are just one of the many symptoms of the broader climate crisis. Rising global temperatures, primarily driven by human activities, have far-reaching consequences for our planet. Our fragile ecosystems are under threat, with increased heatwaves, droughts, and wildfires becoming more frequent and severe. Such extreme weather events devastate our agricultural sector, damage public health, and endanger our precious biodiversity.
Additionally, scientists recorded incidents that as humanity we have not experience before such as:
Extreme marine heatwaves – Copernicus stated that waster surface temperatures were higher worldwide as prior on record, across Ireland, Britain, and the Baltic while sections of Canada, the US, Mexico, Asia, and eastern Australia “were significantly warmer than normal”.
Antartica – The Antartic sea ice saw its smallest extent, with a 17 percent below average extent, since satellite measurements first began.
Deadly heatwaves – China, US and Mexico reached their highest levels of heat alerts and are already counting loses. In Mexico, the prolonged heatwaves were responsible for the loss of 112 human lives.
The national urgency for Cyprus:
Cyprus is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The rising temperatures and prolonged heatwaves threaten our agricultural productivity, compromising food security and livelihoods countless farmers. Our coastal regions face the looming threat of rising sea levels, posing a significant risk to tourism, a vital economic driver for the country.
Policymakers and decision makers need to act and decide like our house is on fire. Climate change is here, now and it is time for Cyprus to take bold and decisive action. Our government is still implementing a business-as-usual policy approach and taking effective action. We need bold, ambitious and effective climate policy to reduce carbon emissions and ensure a safe future.
Our response to the climate crisis will determine the future we leave for generations to come. There is not much time life to safeguard what we have, mitigate climate change, and create a sustainable and prosperous future for all. The time for action is now, and we cannot afford to wait any longer.
We must act urgently and decisively. The following are key solutions that need to be implemented:
A just transition to Renewable energy: Cyprus must accelerate its transition to clean, renewable and safe energy sources. Incentives, subsidies, upgrading our electricity grid, energy storage solutions, adopting new technologies, empowering businesses, communities and individuals to embrace renewables must be top priorities.
Enhance Energy efficiency: Improving energy efficiency in buildings (primarily governmental) and in industries and providing more incentives for citizens to adopt energy efficient appliances must be taken forward.
Sustainable Transport: Revamping our transportation system is vital in dealing with the climate crisis. Enhancing public transportation systems, promoting cycling, creating pedestrian-friendly infrastructure, and reducing reliance on private vehicles are measures that need to be implemented.
– Protecting Natural Resources: Preserving and restoring our natural ecosystems is critical for mitigating the impacts of climate change. Cyprus should prioritise sustainable land management practices, including reforestation efforts and the protection of biodiversity hotspots. By conserving our forests, wetlands, and coastal areas, we can enhance resilience against climate change, sequester carbon dioxide, and safeguard our natural heritage.
No more fossil fuel infrastructure and burning – We need to move away from fossil fuels by as soon as tomorrow. No fossil fuel infrastructure (natural gas is a fossil fuel do not be fooled) is compatible with what we are facing right now in terms of emissions. The EastMed, LNG terminal in Vasilikos and other fossil fuel infrastructure that is currently underway will lock Cyprus into a fossil fuel loop that is incompatible with our safe future.
This new record in 2023, serves as a stark reminder of the urgency to address the climate crisis in Cyprus. The impacts of rising temperatures and extreme weather events pose significant risks to our economy, ecosystems, and public health. Cyprus needs to urgently focus on sustainable development and climate resilience, through bold and decisive action.
The time for action is now, and we cannot afford to wait any longer.

Natasa Ioannou is an environmental biologist working as a project officer for Friends of the Earth Cyprus and the general secretary of Ecological Movement Cyprus. Her focus includes education and public awareness campaigns, as well as activism, community organising and mobilising on environmental justice issues