(Estimated reading time: 5 minutes) – Audio version of article available.
According to a report published July 2 by the Agencia Estatal de Metereología (National Weather Agency), 2019 was especially warm, a continuation of the trend in previous years. In fact, predictions for the decades to come foresee scenarios with maximum temperatures 5ºC higher than current temperatures.
That being said, without forgetting that we must implement measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, let us discuss solutions to adapt to the aforementioned temperature increases.
To adapt, reinforcing population warning systems will be essential. Last June, just like in previous years, the Ministry of Health of the Community of Madrid launched a Heatwave Information Campaign. From 1 June to 15 September, information is offered on the day-to-day situation, along with data on temperature forecasts in the Community of Madrid. Citizens who wish to may register for the subscription service to receive information on possible heatwaves via email or SMS on this webpage.
To adapt, we must also monitor and analyse the impact of a fluctuating climate on people’s health. So, what should we measure? According the Public Health Commission of the Inter-Regional Ministry of the National Health System and its 2017 report, we must measure essential elements such as hospital admissions due to heat, excess mortality during the summer season, or municipalities where the presence or settlement of the mosquito Aedes albopictus, also known as the Asian tiger mosquito, has been detected. Because, as we all know, if you can measure it, you can make it better.
However, we must also make the most of investment and economic development opportunities in synchronisation with this climate trend. An example of this is energetic renovation for our buildings, so as to provide thermal comfort and greater energy efficiency in consumption. On one hand, this comfort can be achieved through different methods, such as insulating the “skin” of buildings (the covering, façade, windows, rooftop, etc.). Between 2020-2030, the Plan Nacional Integrado de Energía y Clima (Integrated National Energy and Climate Plan) (PNIEC) intends to promote the installation of thermal insulation on 1.2 million dwellings, which could lead to an investment of approximately 12 billion euros. Another opportunity to improve comfort consists of aerothermal equipment for cooling, with which the simultaneous use of solar power has grown more and more compelling. In fact, solar power for self-supply currently makes so much economic sense that different companies are already offering panel installation for housing and industries at no cost, guaranteeing a discount on the electricity bill for long periods of time, up to 15 years. Yes, you heard right: saving, with no need to invest. This flat-rate energy service model has been working for many years in other countries.
In short, the development of products and services associated with climate adaptation and mitigation will go hand-in-hand with job creation. In Spain in 2019, the solar sector directly or indirectly employed 29,306 workers (UNEF, 2019 ). According to one study (Observatorio de Sostenibilidad (Sustainability Observatory), 2018), roll-out of solar panels on Madrid’s rooftops would provide enough energy to directly meet the electricity consumption of 1.9 million people, unleashing a 5.8 billion-euro investment.
Because temperatures rise, but so do the investment opportunities to fight them.