>@Mireia Gonzalez-Torrijos/EIB
©Mireia Gonzalez-Torrijos/EIB

High temperatures have helped set vast areas of Greece, Italy and the Southern Mediterranean region on fire. Thousands of people have seen their homes and businesses burn to the ground and dozens of people across the region have lost their lives. Even Athens, the cradle of European civilization has been threatened. Fires on the island of Evia and in the Peloponnese are continuing. The Evia fire is now the single biggest wildfire ever recorded in Greece. In Italy, firefighters said they battled more than 500 blazes overnight in Calabria and Sicily.

Today the European Investment Bank stands in solidarity with the victims of these horrific disasters in Greece and elsewhere in Southern Europe, and is working to lend its support for the affected.

In Europe’s neighbourhood, forests in Turkey, Russia and Algeria are also ablaze. Across the Atlantic wildfires are devastating large parts of California. The effects of a hotter climate are clear, apparent and deadly.

But what is most terrifying about this is the prospect of worse yet to come. As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change made clear this week, global temperatures are likely to rise by 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels by 2040. At this level, heatwaves, such as the one we are experiencing now are likely to become more frequent and severe. This is the best-case scenario.

While we are at the mercy of the weather in the short term, the long-term fate of our climate is in our hands. The burning in Southern Europe and the floods last month further North show the vital importance of adapting our infrastructure and societies for the changes ahead. The EU has committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 and it’s time other countries and regions did the same. Last year, the European Investment Bank set out its Climate Bank Roadmap, a plan to increase our investment in climate and environmental sustainability to 50% of our annual lending by 2025. This is part of our commitment, as the EU’s climate bank, to mobilise €1 trillion of climate and environmental sustainability investment by the end of the decade.

We stand ready to support Greece and other countries and their people affected by these extreme climate events.