Before presenting her lecture on ‘Climate Change’ to the Legislative Assembly of Madeira, UN expert, Joana Portugal Pereira, said that Madeira, “being a small island,” is particularly vulnerable to climate change. Not only because of the higher incidence of extreme events but also because of the dangers associated with rising sea levels.
Responsible for coordinating one of the working groups of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Joana pointed out that among the most significant risks facing the island is “the rise in mean sea levels in the medium to long term”.
If predicted sea level rises happen, she said, it will exacerbate the coastal erosion of the whole island, thus increasing the likelihood of landslides. Also, she predicts the island will suffer torrential rainfall which can lead to floods and further landslides. Furthermore, Madeira could also experience an upsurge in land temperatures. These rises in temperature will create longer, drier summers, which will intensify the incidence of forest fires.
However, the seriousness of the situation can be reduced by following sensible procedures, such as, developing inclusive low carbon policies and promoting the sustainable development of the island.
Similarly, she said, economic opportunities associated with low-carbon technologies need to be created, including the expansion of renewable energy, changing food-related consumption patterns while promoting safety and greater public health awareness. She concluded by saying that the island needs to rethink its mobility patterns and adopt less fossil fuel-dependent modes of transport.
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