Half of Cyprus’ beaches may disappear within the next 50 years due to rising sea levels, climate scientist Dr Giorgos Zittis from the Cyprus Institute has warned.

“Sea level rise is expected to destroy around 50 per cent of Cyprus’ beaches,” he said on Monday.

Most of Cyprus’ infrastructure – such as airports, shipping ports and power plants – is located near the sea, making them vulnerable to rising sea levels. The country’s tourism industry, which centres on beaches, would also suffer from these risks.

Zittis highlighted that climate change is making Cyprus hotter and drier. Even if emissions stopped today, temperatures would continue to rise for 20-30 years.

Climate change will make Cyprus’ hot summers ever hotter.

“Cyprus and the wider region of the Eastern Mediterranean, which is also a hot spot of climate change, are mainly affected by increasingly higher temperatures, especially in the summer season,” he said. Other countries, such as northern Europe, mainly feel this increase in the winter.

Excessive heat will hike energy demands while also posing threats to agriculture and human health. Recent heat waves have already caused heat-related deaths and increased the risk of wildfires.

Cyprus may also receive less precipitation in the coming decades. “Although the trends are not as clear-cut as for temperature, we are moving towards drier climate averages,” he said.

Zittis stressed that Cyprus must drastically cut emissions within the next decade and adapt to these hotter, drier conditions.

This could mean using water more wisely, making buildings more energy-efficient, growing crops that can withstand heat, and even adjusting the tourism model to attract visitors during cooler times of the year.

“Our summers may be too hot even for tourists,” he warned.

Despite efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Zittis believes more can be done. “We are a bit behind, there is room for improvement, for example in electricity generation, these efforts can be stepped up,” he concluded.