President Klaus Iohannis says Romania needs to invest in reforestation to combat the effects of severe weather and promised to allocate EU funds to offset damage caused by warming.
Iohannis said Romanian needed to change its outdated mindset to tackle the effects of climate change after the wettest June in 60 years.
“As far as managing this situation goes, we need forestation and not just new dams,” he said Wednesday.
The communists built dams to absorb floodwaters, and Romania has lagged behind in implementing measures and recognizing climate change.
Global Forest Watch, an online platform which monitors forests, has calculated that 317,000 hectares of Romanian forest were lost to logging between 2001 and 2017 using satellite images. Half of these trees were in national parks or conservation areas and were hundreds of years old
”There’s been severe floods which have affected the lives of thousands of Romanians and caused significant damage to people’s properties,” Iohannis said.
Romania’s emergency situations office said Wednesday that 161 towns and villages have been affected by flooding this month. At least three people have died after they were swept away by flash floods and dozens of people were evacuated from 1,000 houses after flood waters inundated homes, cellars and gardens. Trees and electricity pylons were knocked down by high winds.
“It’s tragic that these extreme weather phenomena have led to a loss of life and I send my condolences to families in mourning.”
It was the wettest June in 60 years, causing severe floods and numerous problems in a short space of time, he said.
“We need to rapidly change our approach to respond efficiently to such situations. We have to go beyond the mentality that a … few dams will stop the floods. The dams aren’t enough.”
The president said forest conservation and reforestation had “numerous beneficial effects” for the environment and to reinforce river banks.
EU funds from the next long-term budget will be invested in combatting climate change, under the European Green Deal, a set of policy initiatives by the European Commission with the aim of making Europe climate neutral in 2050.
“Once you have climate change, we’ll have more and more severe weather phenomena.”
The EU will carry out a series of initiatives that will protect the environment and boost the green economy.
“What we are seeing now is the consequences of climate change and the dangers which have been ignored for years.”