Flood risks – losses in EU countries can be reduced

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Flood risk in Europe has increased significantly in recent years. Every year we witness the catastrophic effects of extreme weather events. It is estimated that since 1980. The economic damage caused by the floods in the EU amounted to more than 170 billion euros. Researchers at the European Commission’s Joint Research Center have conducted a study according to which proper adaptation to floods can be cost-effective.

Climate change and flood risk

One of the causes of global climate warming is the so-called “global warming. “greenhouse effect,” which acts directly on the frequency of extreme weather conditions such as torrential rains and floods. Global warming is leading to rising temperatures, and we can already see the impact of these changes on precipitation intensity, as evidenced by the situation in southern Europe, where Italy and Croatia are struggling with the effects of flooding.

Flooding is one of the most serious threats that European Union countries can face. Over the past few years, they have caused gigantic economic damage and contributed to the deaths of many people. Flood risks may be much higher in the coming decades, but with the right measures, the probability of occurrence can be reduced and damage can be limited. Flood risk management can benefit both people and nature.

Update of Flood Risk Management Plans

The Floods Directive requires all EU countries to assess areas at risk of flooding and take appropriate risk reduction measures. It is necessary to create and update flood hazard maps and flood risk maps, on the basis of which flood risk management plans(FMPs) are developed.

As of the end of March this year, the second update of the IPPs was made in most EU countries. Public consultations have ended in Spain, Belgium, Lithuania, Slovakia, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia and Romania, but updates have not yet been reported. In Portugal and Bulgaria, public consultations are still ongoing, and only in Greece and Cyprus have not yet begun.

It is worth adding that the Flood Directive is not only a strategy for responding to emergencies, but also preventive measures. As part of these activities, m. in. rainwater drainage systems, which avoids the sudden piling up of rainwater on roads or residential areas. There are also plans to regularly inspect dikes and improve hydrotechnical infrastructure. It is also the role of member states to designate specialized bodies responsible for coordinating rescue operations and supporting affected residents.

Flood risk – how to limit losses?

Since 1980. The economic damage caused by the floods in the EU amounted to more than 170 billion euros. An article published in Nature Climate Change estimated that river flooding in the EU and the UK causes annual damages of about €7.6 billion and exposes about 160,000 people to flooding each year. It is estimated that in the absence of climate change adaptation, flood damage in Europe would rise to 44 billion euros a year, putting nearly half a million people at risk annually by the end of the 21st century.

According to the article’s authors, the key measures for adapting to flooding are the creation of reservoirs, construction of dikes, securing buildings against flooding, and displacing people from at-risk areas. The measures could reduce estimated flood losses in Europe by 2100. in all 3 global warming scenarios – 1.5°C, 2°C and 3°C. The study showed that implementing appropriate adaptation strategies will keep flood losses at current levels.

In the case of a 3°C rise, cost-benefit analysis shows that the construction of flood control polders is the best economic choice. This would help reduce estimated losses in Europe to €8.1 billion a year by the end of the century and reduce the number of potentially affected people by 84%. Implementation of the measure would require less than 2% of Europe’s total arable land and would entail an investment of €2.6 billion a year by 2100.

Other ways to reduce the effects of flooding

In most EU countries, it is also cost-effective to strengthen existing dike systems. It is estimated that in the event of a 3°C warming, an investment of €3.1 billion per year would help reduce annual flood damage by 70% in 2100. It should be noted that embankments effectively protect against frequent small-scale phenomena. Relying only on dike systems can have negative socioeconomic consequences and negative environmental impacts.

In areas frequently affected by flooding, in heavily populated areas or where valuable facilities are located, it is a good idea to protect buildings from flooding. Although it is the least economically attractive solution, it is worth using when security measures fail or are insufficient. It is worth remembering that every person living in areas prone to flooding can help prevent its catastrophic effects through individual action.

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