“We must prepare France for +4 degrees of warming,” Christophe Béchu, the minister for ecological transition, admitted in February. Today, France is experiencing +1.8 degrees of warming, which is already having far-reaching consequences. Given that the world is heading for at least a three degree rise by 2100, and that France is heating up faster than the global average, this prediction is not an exaggeration.
At +4 degrees, heatwaves could last for two months, heat peaks could reach 50ºC for several days in a row, the wildfire season would last twice as long as today, and blazes could ravage the north of the country. Snow would disappear in the mid-mountains, and rainfall would be much more intense and sudden in the plains, with an increased risk of flooding.
Beyond the global strategies to try to avoid the scenario of global warming, France has started to think about preparing for the worst. How can we adjust to such a future? This is the question posed by the government, which has launched a national online consultation. The results, which will be collected over the summer, will help define a new plan for adapting to global warming.
One of the biggest challenges is preparing public infrastructure for such conditions. Some roads will have to be relocated because of the risk of flooding and railways will have to be redesigned because today’s TGV can’t run when the ground temperature is above 57 degrees.
Another key issue is to help municipalities adapt to extremely high temperatures. Roofs and walls could be painted in white to reflect heat, pipe networks should be repaired to avoid loss of drinking water, wastewater could be reused on an individual (shower water for toilets) or collective level.
All this will cost money. “The adaptation measures to be taken now will represent at least an additional 2.3 billion euros per year,” the government has already warned.