Global warming will leave Belgium underwater

Brussels will become a coastal capital by the year 3000 as Antwerp disappears beneath the waves because of global warming, a report has warned.

The study into the effects that global warming could have on Belgium was carried out by the Catholic University of Louvain (UCL) and was commissioned by environmental campaign group Greenpeace.

It predicted that Belgium will experience milder winters and more heatwaves in the summer. Temperatures were predicted to rise by around 4.9 degrees in winter and 6.6 degrees in the summer – temperature increases higher than have been recorded in 10,000 years.

Also forecast for the European country were increased flooding, heavier storms and more coastal flooding. And rising sea levels, caused largely by melting ice caps, would cause just over a tenth of the total land area to be submerged in water, equalling around 63,000 hectares.

However, Professor Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, who lead the research, told edie that these changes could still potentially be avoided by taking action now.

“This model will not definitely become reality – our climatic future is still at least partially in our hands,” Professor van Ypersele said. “If the world community manages to stay on a significantly lower greenhouse gas emission scenario than the average scenario considered in our study, these higher sea levels would not be reached.”

But even if action was taken now, it would not be possible to completely avoid the extreme weather changes, he said, due to the effect of past emissions on the climate system.

“The root of the problem lies in greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon dioxide,” Professor van Ypersele confirmed to edie. “Many countries have joined the Kyoto Protocol to try and reduce these emissions, but Kyoto is only the first step on a road to climate protection.”

Greenpeace stated that it hoped the government would carefully consider the report’s findings and realise the importance of developing a long-term environmental strategy.

By Jane Kettle

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