The next day from second serious flood that hit Romagna in just 15 dayswe find ourselves, as often happens, reflecting on the fragility of our territoryon the overbuilding excessive and on the aggravation of effects of the climate crisis.
Our ability to prevent heavy rains from turning into a disaster, with casualties and damages, is fading before our eyes. Blame the climate, already changed, and the fault of the inertia with which we are facing an evolution that is happening faster than expected. The climate crisis is not an issue we will face in 10 or 20 years: it’s already here, and we’re all interested in it.
Floods, droughts, heat waves and thunderstorms: Italy is the third country in Europe for economic damage caused by weather events
On the territory of the European Union, between 1980 and 2021 extreme weather events caused economic losses for 560 billion euros, of which 56.6 in 2021 alone. These are weather-climatic events which, due to global warming, will become increasingly frequent and intense. We don’t just talk about seasonal rains concentrated in a few hoursbut also of long periods of abnormal heat and drought. All extreme phenomena that have important consequences not only on the economy but also and above all on people’s health.
According to the report of the European Environment Agency, the floods and hydrological events account for 45% of economic losses from events recorded between 1980 and 2021, while extreme weather events such as thunderstorms, lightning and hail represent a third of the total. The heat waves they caused 13% of the total losses, while the remaining 8% was caused by droughts, forest fires and cold spells.
L’Italia, in this context, is in third place for economic damage, after Germany and France. In particular, our country has suffered damage for 91 billion euros from 1980 to 2021, 303 thousand euros per square kilometer. Germany suffered damages for 150 billion euros, while France for 106 billion. Italy is third also for number of victimscon 21,647 fatalities related to extreme weather events.
Vulnerability of the population with respect to the risk of floods. ISPRA map
According to experts, it is highly unlikely that these numbers will decrease between now and 2030 or 2050. According to research by Ref Ricerche, between May 2013 and May 2019 in Italy 87 states of emergency have been declared due to extreme events such as floods, drought and landslides, with overall damage for 9.4 billion euros. Costs that we could have reduced through planned prevention, which it would have cost us 7 times less with respect to emergency management1.
The most affected region in these 6 years was precisely theEmilia Romagna, with 12 states of emergency required for a total amount requested of 1,330 million euros. This is the region most vulnerable to flood risk: in a medium hazard scenario, potentially floodable areas reach 45.6% of the entire regional territory and the exposed population exceeds 60%.
Knowing the fragility of the Italian territory and the growing exposure to extreme weather phenomena, intensified and made more frequent due to the climate crisis, Italy and the administration should urgently intervene in adaptation policies, with prevention interventions on a local scale to contain the damage as much as possible, e protect the population today dramatically exposed to hydrogeological risks.
1 – ANBI estimates 2019