Joint presse release by the German Environment Agency and the Federal Ministry for the Environment

Climate change in Germany: New monitoring report illustrates far-reaching impact

Germany will feel effects of global warming more strongly with ever more proof of cause

Sturm auf SeeClick to enlarge
More and more proof of global warming becoming evident
Source: Seonphoto SergeiGo / Fotolia

The second monitoring report by the Federal Government which was presented by the Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMU) and the Federal Environment Agency (UBA) today in Berlin says the average air temperature in Germany rose by 1.5 degrees between 1881 and 2018, with a 0.3-degree increase over the last five years alone. The effects include more health risks caused by heat stress, a rise in the average surface temperature of the North Sea, and heavier fluctuations in agricultural yields.

Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze said: "The effects of climate change are becoming clearer by the day. The increase in the average temperature in Germany of 0.3 degrees in only five years’ time is alarming. We must respond by taking precautionary climate action and targeted measures to adapt to climate change. Examples of this are to ensure that all building and infrastructure projects are more resilient to the effects of heat, rainstorms and flooding. The same applies to designing urban settlements. Planted roofs and building facades, water areas and shady places provide relief from the heat and improve storm water retention and also improve air quality. Sustainable climate adaptation such as this not only makes our infrastructure more robust, it also secures Germany's standing as a location for business and provides added value to our quality of life."

"The core message of the monitoring report is that the future is now. Germany is fully affected by global warming and its far-reaching impact on the environment, society and health. We urgently need to implement measures to counteract these effects. Monitoring must be further improved to fully capture the effects of climate change and of government investment. One feasible approach is to launch a special global warming prevention programme funded by the federal government and the Länder," said UBA President Maria Krautzberger.

Higher average temperature also means a higher number of "hot weather" days – days on which temperatures climb to over 30°C. The number of those days has risen from around three in 1951, to about ten days per year today. This weather affects the population in urban areas in particular. The 2019 monitoring report now includes national statistics on heat-related deaths. The heat wave of 2003 caused 7,500 more deaths than would have otherwise occurred. 6,000 excess deaths were reported for the years 2006 and 2015.

Water availability: The water table has often been low in the last ten years, leading to water supply problems in some communities. More frequent dry spells and episodes of low water levels in rivers are taking a toll on ecosystems, impeding shipping and jeopardising the supply of cooling water to power plants and industry.

Agriculture and forestry are also affected. The available water in agricultural soils has declined significantly over the past 50 years. In 2018, heat and drought caused damage worth 700 million euros in the agricultural sector. Seasons and growth periods have shifted, the latter increasing from 222 days (1951-1981) to 232 days (1988-2017). Animal and plant species from warmer regions of the Earth are spreading, for example the sardine or anchovy in the North Sea, or the Asian tiger mosquito on the mainland. The tiger mosquito can spread diseases previously not known to occur in Germany such as Chikungaya or dengue fever.

Global warming also impacts the economy, which depends on intact streets, harbours and waterways. These infrastructures suffer damage from extreme weather events such as storms and heavy rains. In 2018, buildings, motor vehicles, household goods, trade, industry and agriculture sustained insurance losses totalling about 3.1 billion euros. According to the insurance industry, the year 2018 was one of the worst storm years of the last 20 years.

Further information

The monitoring report 2019 does not take systematic account of data from 2018 and 2019 because of the time delay in processing statistically secured national data. The aim of continuous monitoring as part the German adaptation strategy is not so much to illustrate current development as it is the systematic observation of climate change impact and adaptation based on statistically-based time series. Wherever possible, the report provides an initial forecast of developments in 2018/19.

The latest monitoring report was compiled by the KomPass Competence Centre on Climate Impacts and Adaptation in Germany at UBA, together with nearly 200 individuals from federal and Länder authorities, universities and professional associations.

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