Nicolas Maeterlinck

Climate action: “Politicians looked the other way”

Climate expert Jean-Pascal van Ypersele has slammed the response of the political class to climate change.  The scientist says that politicians have known for dozens of years that natural disasters like the one that hit Belgium in recent days were coming our way.  “Politicians didn’t respond in time” he says.

Climate change is increasing spells of torrential rainfall like the ones that triggered the floods in Belgium last week.  Drier summers are forecast for Belgium but when it rains torrential downpours may be expected. Jean-Pascal van Ypersele is a former deputy president of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC: “Of course I was shocked and got very emotional as a result of the damage inflicted by the waters, but the IPCC has been sounding the alarm for dozens of years.  We can’t forecast individual phenomena, but we knew the risk of disasters like that is getting greater.”

The scientist is incandescent when it comes to attributing responsibility: “We’ve been warning something needs to be done about C02 emissions.  We need to me more prepared for disasters by adapting infrastructure and buildings.  It hasn’t happened.  Politicians looked the other way and didn’t take action in time, not only in Belgium.”

The Belgian argues that the EU’s Green Deal aimed at a climate neutral EU by 2050 is insufficient: “European goals are all good and well but ambitious measures are more important.  Greater responsibility needs to be taken.  It’s a collective responsibility: Europe is only part of the world.”

Van Ypersele has little time for people pointing to the cost of action against climate change: “Look at the cost of what is happening now! There is a high cost in lives and hundreds of millions of euros in damage.  At the end of the day we pay.  I prefer to pay for prevention rather than for the damage.”

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