Water woes could pave the way for improved EU-Iran relations

The bigger picture that the EU needs to consider if it wants to devise an effective and comprehensive strategy towards Iran is one of a country facing a fundamental political, economic, environmental, societal, and demographic crisis, Cornelius Adebahr writes.

July turned out to be “Earth’s hottest month”. Places like Phoenix and Beijing, located on nearly opposite sides of the globe, suffered from the same heat event. 


In a world with growing potential for military conflict, these very tangible effects of climate change should remind friends and foes just how closely connected they are.

One place, however, stands out: Iran. The country is not only hit hard by global warming but also run by a regime that thrives on regional instability and enmity with the West. 

Dealing with the Islamic Republic will therefore be decisive for how to address global challenges even with unfriendly actors more broadly.

However, as the polarised, toxic debate in the US does not allow for nuances, the European Union and its member states have to come up with such policy innovation.

Obviously, that’s easier said than done, given that the EU over the past year has hardened its stance vis-à-vis Tehran over a number of issues. 

Iran’s drone supply to Russia, used for indiscriminate attacks on Ukrainian cities, tops this list, followed closely by the regime’s crackdown on popular dissent, its stalling on the nuclear negotiations, and — though much less in the public’s view — its overt hostage-taking of dual nationals to extract concessions.

None of this makes the Islamic Republic a particularly pleasant actor to deal with, let alone one to provide with any benefits from cooperation. 

At the same time, EU member states do have interests in the region that require a minimum of, yes, give-and-take. 

Simply shunning the regime, as some demanded in response to the most recent revolt, neither improves the country’s human rights record nor can it undo the nuclear or other threats.

Water scarcity is compounding Iran’s woes

This is where the climate kicks in: while Southern Europe has struggled with an immense heat wave this summer, Iran has suffered from record-breaking temperatures. 

Both here and there, increased evaporation due to rising temperatures and decreasing groundwater levels, coupled with poor water management and increased water use for crops, energy, and industry, lead to widespread shortages. 


In early August, the Iranian government imposed a COVID-style nationwide shutdown in response to the extreme heat — while Italy considers a pandemic-like furlough scheme for those working outside.

So far, violent clashes have been rare but did occur in Iran — fairly frequently, for example in Khuzestan and Isfahan — and Europe (more seldom, but earlier this year in France). 

Not coincidentally, it is the province of Sistan and Baluchistan in Eastern Iran on the border with Pakistan that has seen the most sustained protests over the months following the death of Mahsa Amini last September — and which, according to the country’s lawmakers, will run out of water by mid-September.

Water scarcity, it appears, is a matter that links — and compounds — many other policy issues plaguing Iran in particular. 

Protecting cronies will be Tehran regime’s undoing

It saps economic growth in a society whose erstwhile youth bulb is growing older just as birth rates decline and emigration grows, due to high unemployment as much as political repression. 


It also pits groups of society, rural and urban, farmers and consumers, against one another when both ethnic tensions and a core-periphery divide create instability.

Moreover, clientelist water policies favouring cronies in the political establishment and the security apparatus, which again control much of the country’s infrastructure — think of dams for electricity generation — and industry (like chemicals, steel, and refineries), have helped turn the population against a political system built on religious zeal and the suppression of women. 

This, at a moment when a leadership succession is most likely only years away, given Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s high age — he’s 84 — and poor health, at least according to frequent speculations.

Tying its fate with Russia against the West

And that’s before looking at the regional picture, where skirmishes with Afghanistan, disputes with Iraq and Turkey over transboundary water flows, and the threat of war with Israel over the country’s nuclear program outweigh Tehran’s yet-untested recent rapprochement with Saudi Arabia. 

Globally, the Islamic Republic has tied its fate to Russia and China to better confront “the West”, though the resultant economic and political dependencies do little to ease that country’s many environmental woes.


Therefore, the bigger picture that the EU needs to consider if it wants to devise an effective and comprehensive strategy towards Iran is one of a country facing a fundamental political, economic, environmental, societal, and demographic crisis. 

Still, rather than hope for the regime’s rather-sooner-than-later demise, the EU should look for ways to cooperate on shared challenges — for the benefit of tackling these as much as in the interest of establishing ties into an otherwise closed society.

Water might be the reason to build bridges

Admitting to its own struggles with the effects of climate change, such as increasing water scarcity, goes a long way to addressing urgent environmental needs at eye level.

An open dialogue on regenerative processes that will tangibly benefit Iran’s society and economy could help create a basis for trust that is otherwise lacking. 

It would also allow engagement with government actors, both national and local, as well as international organisations in the country while bringing in civil society and academia.

Such efforts would help the EU develop its nascent water diplomacy into an operational approach that could be applied to other world regions. 

It would also serve as a template for dealing with other antagonist regimes of relevance to Europe, by identifying a policy area for non-ideological, human needs-based cooperation. 

Given the situation around Iran is representative of the geopolitical conflicts to come, ending the current stalemate and engaging in meaningful cooperation would serve the EU well in its quest to become a relevant actor at the global level.

Cornelius Adebahr is an independent analyst and consultant working on European foreign policy, including for Carnegie Europe. He is the author of “Europe and Iran: The Nuclear Deal and Beyond”.

At Euronews, we believe all views matter. Contact us at [email protected] to send pitches or submissions and be part of the conversation.

Source link

#Water #woes #pave #improved #EUIran #relations

No respite for fragile ecosystems as late-summer heatwave pummels France

A protracted heatwave crawling across much of Europe has brought scorching temperatures to France this week, dealing a further blow to ecosystems already weakened by drought – while also putting human health at risk. 

French authorities placed large swaths of southern France on the highest heat warning level – a “red alert” – on Wednesday as temperatures shot past 40°Celsius (104°F), shattering seasonal records. 

Meteorologists have spoken of a “heat dome” weather pattern settling over the country, with a period of stable high pressure leading to torrid conditions and a lack of wind. 

France as a whole experienced its hottest day ever recorded in the period after August 15 on Monday, according to the national weather service Météo France, which described the current heatwave as “intense, long-lasting” and occurring “particularly late in the season”.  

Since 1947, only six heatwaves have been recorded in France after the August 15 mark, all of them this century.  

“While heatwaves are not exceptional, what is surprising is that they should happen so late,” said climatologist Pascal Yiou, saying it was likely a consequence of climate change

“You would normally get these types of temperatures between July 15 and August 15 – not after that,” he added.

Threat to forests, vines and crops 

The latest heatwave is a new blow to fragile ecosystems across Europe, coming on the heels of a summer marked by widespread drought and devastating wildfires in Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain. 

While France has experienced relatively few forest fires this summer compared to last year, experts have flagged a heightened risk in the coming days, particularly in the country’s south. 

“These high temperatures come at the end of a cycle, when trees are already weakened by the stress of the summer season,” said Serge Zaka, an expert in the ecological impact of climate change. 

“This is normally the time when trees start getting a little respite,” Zaka added. “Instead, they are drying up further, meaning they become even more flammable.”  

Météo France’s daily forest bulletin placed much of southeast France at high risk of fire on Wednesday. Local authorities have also closed most forest parks to the public as a precautionary measure. 

The unseasonal heat comes at a critical time for farmers in areas famed for their wines and fruit production.  

“As with the forests, this time of year usually marks the end of a cycle for vines and other fruit trees such as apples, pears, peaches and kiwis,” Zaka explained. “It’s the time when the grape harvest and picking begin. But the plants suffer if temperatures continue to exceed 35°C.” 

The heatwave has forced these wine growers in the Ardèche area of south-central France to harvest their grapes at night.
The heatwave has forced these wine growers in the Ardèche area of south-central France to harvest their grapes at night. © Clotaire Achi, Reuters

In places where temperatures are reaching 42°C, such as the wine-growing Rhône Valley, crops are already showing signs of weakness. 

“Leaves exposed to the sun are turning brown and fruit is burning,” Zaka said. “It’s too early to draw any conclusions, but there will certainly be yield losses.” 

The heat could also affect sunflowers and maize, he warned, while leading to a fall in the milk yield of dairy cows that are particularly sensitive to high temperatures.

“What’s most worrying is that this will be another blow to crops and ecosystems after a catastrophic 2022 and two difficult years before then,” Zaka said. “With each new extreme weather event, they emerge a little weaker.” 

Water stress

The heatwave is also likely to exacerbate an ongoing drought that has left businesses and households grappling with water shortages.  

According to the latest figures from the French Geological and Mining Research Bureau (BRGM), 72% of water tables remained below normal seasonal levels last month. Nearly 90 municipalities in the south are currently without drinking water and have to be supplied by tankers.   

On Monday, the government ordered 15 industrial sites to cut back the amount of water they use to operate. Part of a wider water-saving plan unveiled earlier this year, the measure is designed to reduce groundwater and river abstraction in France by 10% by 2030.   

Meanwhile, local authorities in several French departments have announced tighter rules on water use, including restrictions on nautical sports and bans on watering gardens, parks and golf courses. 

Electricity operator EDF, which runs France’s nuclear power stations, has also issued warnings about its plants on the Rhone River amid concern that the water they rely on to cool the reactors is getting too hot.

Nuclear reactors use vast quantities of cooling water before dumping it back into rivers at much higher temperatures, potentially damaging local ecosystems.  

France’s nuclear plants are legally required to slow down their output when the water temperature crosses a certain threshold – a risk EDF has so far ruled out.  

‘Cannot lower our guard’

The heatwave’s impact on human health – both physical and mental – is another concern as millions return to work and schools prepare to reopen following the summer break. 

“When the outside temperature rises, our body needs to adapt to ensure its temperature remains at around 37°C,” said Bruno Megarbane, head of the intensive care unit at Lariboisière Hospital in Paris. “That involves using certain regulatory mechanisms, such as sweat.” 

However, extreme heat can cause such mechanisms to fail among vulnerable people, including children, the elderly and those with cardiovascular problems, putting them at risk of heat strokes.

Across Europe, at least 62,000 people died “prematurely” as a result of record heat in 2022, including more than 5,000 in France, according to a study published last month in the journal Nature Medicine.  

“Fortunately, since 2003 we have understood the need for preventive measures to cope with extreme heat,” said Megarbane, referring to the severe heatwave 20 years ago that was blamed for tens of thousands of deaths across Europe.  

Such measures include the creation of cooling areas in cities, adapting work hours to avoid the hottest hours, and cancelling certain outdoor events. 

“This late spell of heat is a reminder that we cannot lower our guard now that the summer holidays are over, and that we must be ready to put such measures in place at any time,” Megarbane said. 

He also warned of the possible repercussions on people’s mental health, noting that heatwaves lead to sleep deprivation, “with negative effects on memory and concentration”. 

He said other ailments – including “growing anxiety, parasitic thoughts and mood disorders” – all threaten to become more acute as heatwaves grow in frequency and intensity. 

This article was translated from the original in French.

Source link

#respite #fragile #ecosystems #latesummer #heatwave #pummels #France

Green Week Debate 2023: Can Europe lead the way on food security?

As part of Euronews’ Green Week, our expert panel will explore how Europe can future-proof its food security in the face of climate change and rising global hunger.

More and more people are going hungry globally. The World Food Programme (WFP) estimates that 345 million people are now facing acute food insecurity, more than double the number affected in 2019.

The combined shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine and spiralling food, fuel and fertiliser costs have ignited a cost of living crisis across Europe and the world.

The climate emergency is playing a role too. According to the UN, climate change is now one of the “leading causes” of global hunger, with the food crisis likely to “spiral out of control” if the world fails to take immediate action.

While the situation is most pressing in East African countries such as Somalia and Ethiopia, the impacts of climate change are being felt across the globe. In Europe, food security is being threatened by extreme weather, with the continent now in drought since 2018, according to a recent study from the Graz University of Technology in Austria.

The situation is being made more complex by the climate impacts of the food system itself, creating a feedback loop where the emissions from global food production are making climate change worse.

As the climate emergency escalates, will technology and innovation make food systems more resilient? And if innovation is the answer, who is going to pay for it?

As Europe looks to the future, what will the changing climate mean for our diets, and will consumer food choices help to steer us in a more sustainable direction?

As part of Euronews’ Green Week, we’ll be putting these key questions and more to a panel of experts during our live debate on Thursday 8th June at 3.00pm (CEST)

Meet our panel:

Edward Davey, Director of Partnerships, Food & Land Use Coalition (FOLU) & Co-Director, World Resources Institute UK

Edward Davey is the Director of Partnerships at the Food and Land Use Coalition. He is responsible for ensuring that FOLU drives real and lasting impact in international processes and institutions on the food systems agenda. Edward is also Co-Director of WRI UK. He is the author of ‘Given Half A Chance: Ten Ways to Save the World,’ published in 2019.

Dr. Lee Ann Jackson, Head, Agro-Food Trade and Markets Division, Directorate for Trade & Agriculture, OECD

Dr. Lee Ann Jackson is the Head of the Agro-Food Trade and Markets Division in the Trade and Agriculture Directorate (TAD) at the OECD. Dr Jackson manages a team that develops evidence-based advice for governments with the aim of helping them improve the domestic and international performance of their policies for agro-food trade and markets.

She joined the OECD in 2020 after 16 years at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) where she served as the Secretary to the WTO’s Committee on Agriculture in the Agriculture and Commodities Division.

Prof. Mladen Radisic, CEO, Foodscale Hub & Communication Manager, CrackSense

Prof. Mladen Radišić is CEO at Foodscale Hub, an Impact Venture Studio working to accelerate the shift towards tech-enabled innovations in the agrifood sector. He is also a university professor specialising in Business and Finance.

He has previous experience in running large-scale projects and has organised international EU-funded business accelerator programs. These projects and programs provided €15 million to more than 300 European SMEs and startups, covering sectors such as agrifood, ICT, manufacturing, logistics, health, finance, energy, and environment.

Marloes Martens, Product Manager, Human Nutrition & Health, Ynsect

Marloes Martens is Product Manager of Human Nutrition & Health at Ÿnsect. As part of her role, she also works with R&D on the development of new products, as well as with sales – she is the link between the technical departments and the sales people.

As part of her Master’s degree in Health-Food Innovation Management at the University of Maastricht, she founded Oatelli, a project aimed at improving fibre consumption in the Netherlands.

If you would like to submit a question for our panel, please fill in the form below:

Is food production causing climate change?

Food production is one of the leading causes of climate change, accounting for a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the World Resources Institute.

Animal products currently make-up two-thirds of all agricultural emissions and use more than three-quarters of agricultural land. Food production is water intensive too, with an average of 70 per cent of the world’s freshwater used during agricultural production.

To make matters worse, roughly a third of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted, with the EU wasting approximately 131 kg per person in 2020 alone.

How is the EU planning to improve food security?

The EU cites the climate, a lack of resources and population growth among the factors behind its Food 2030 policy, which seeks to make European food systems more sustainable, while ensuring everyone has enough affordable and nutritious food.

With research and innovation at its heart, the policy covers everything from land and water-based production, to food processing, retail and distribution, packaging, waste and recycling, and consumption. It aligns with the EU’s flagship Green Deal vision.

Research has shown that EU citizens are hungry for change too. A 2022 WWF report found that 74 per cent of respondents believed that Europeans should eat food that is better for the environment, while 66 per cent agree that eating sustainable food is key to tackling climate change and biodiversity loss.

In order to make food systems more resilient though, the EU must combine technological innovation and regenerative farming, while increasing the diversity of its cereal crops to ensure resilient food for the future.

How can innovation make food systems more resilient?

Building innovation into the current food system is a complex undertaking, especially as the climate emergency evolves.

In the long term, the EU is looking to reduce its dependence on imports such as fertilisers and plant-based proteins for animal feed, while at the same time funding projects which provide solutions to climate issues.

One of the latest projects to receive EU funding is the Greek based initiative CrackSense. The project aims to address the problem of fruit cracking, which can happen due to an erratic water supply and leads to fruit drop and yield loss. By developing and upscaling sensing technologies, the project is able to provide real-time data on fruit conditions, which could be adapted for other crops too.

As the climate emergency escalates, can Europe ensure food security and future-proof its farms? Join us on Thursday 8th June at 3.00pm (CEST) to debate one of the most important issues of our time.

Source link

#Green #Week #Debate #Europe #lead #food #security

‘The country is becoming a desert’: Drought-struck Spain is running out of water

Spain is running out of water. After a long and painful drought, the country has been hit by an unusually early heat wave, evaporating even more of the “blue gold” it still has left in its reservoirs. While farmers fear for their survival, environmentalists say it is time for “Europe’s back garden” to rethink how it uses and manages its increasingly scarce water supply.   

There’s an expression in Spain: “En Abril, aguas mil  April will bring the rains. Only this year, it didn’t. The month of April was the driest month on record, and several Spanish cities registered their highest April temperatures yet. In Cordoba, the mercury rose to 38.7°C (almost 102°F) at one point, and in the province of Seville in Andalusia to 37.8°C.

Coming on the heels of a long-term drought and an unusually warm and dry winter, the latest heat wave has sparked a real fear of shortages. 

“The situation is particularly alarming in the regions of Catalonia and Andalusia, where the water reservoirs are at less than 25 percent of their capacity,” said Jorge Olcina, head of the climatology laboratory at the University of Alicante. Both regions imposed water restrictions at the end of February, meaning inhabitants were no longer allowed to water their gardens or fill their swimming pools. Farmers were also asked to reduce irrigation.

Thousands of inhabitants in the Andalusian village of Jaen even went so far as to organise an “El Abuelo” procession to beg for rain on May 1, bringing out their Christ statue to reinforce their prayers. It was the first time the statue had been brought out of the church basement since 1949. 

“And the rest of Spain is not out of danger. The state of the reserves is increasingly worrisome in the regions of Valencia, Murcia, Castile-La Mancha and Extremadura. The available water stock has gone below 40 percent of total capacity,” Olcina continued. 

Serge Zaka, an agroclimatology specialist, described Spain as being in “a mega-drought situation”, bearing the brunt of the effects of the drought in the summer of 2022 and then the dry winter that followed. “The [current] state of the soil and water reserves generally corresponds to what we usually see in August. This is totally unprecedented,” he said.

Europe’s back garden in peril?

Spain is known as “Europe’s back garden” because it exports a large part of its agricultural production, and Spanish farmers are, unsurprisingly, among the first to suffer the consequences of a water shortage.

According to COAG, which coordinates farming and ranching groups and is one of the country’s main farming unions, 60 percent of Spain’s non-irrigated cereal crops have “asphyxiated” due to lack of rain.

“These are cereals planted in the fall and harvested in the spring, like wheat and barley,” Zaka explained. “But because of the lack of water, their development was interrupted before they could reach maturity. And so it won’t be possible to harvest them.”   

“The cultivation of olive, pistachio and almond trees is also likely to decline,” he said. “Because even if these plants are used to dry climates, they are suffering from the hotter-than-normal temperatures.”

Delaying planting certain crops offers farmers one option for combating the drought, but it comes with inherent risks. 

“As for fruits and vegetables – for those grown on smaller farms that don’t irrigate – farmers try to postpone their sowing periods for as long as possible, waiting for better conditions. But the more the time passes, the more they risk missing the season altogether,” Zaka said.

“The huge irrigated crop fields in southern Spain might not be as hard-hit, but with the lack of water and the restrictions that have been put in place, the farmers running them will have to lower their returns,” he added. 

In short: only crops that grow close to the coastline, and are watered with water from desalination plants, are expected to make it through this dry spell.

The water crisis has prompted the Spanish government to announce a series of measures to help farmers, including a 25 percent income tax reduction for some 800,000 of them.

The limits of intensive use

Environmentalists say it is not only the hotter and drier climate that is to blame for Spain’s water crisis – Spanish farming practices are part of the problem, too.

“This drought shows us the limits of the Spanish agricultural model, which is based on the false impression that we have an abundance of water,” said Julio Barea, responsible for water issues at Greenpeace Spain. Today, the Spanish farming sector accounts for as much as 80 percent of the country’s fresh water consumption.

Since the 1950s, Spain has installed hundreds of dams and water diversion systems to respond to its recurring water shortages. In all, the country now has around 1,200 artificial dams and reservoirs – more than any other country in Europe. Most of them can be found in the southern half of Spain, supplying mainly intensive agricultural sites, but also smaller farms and tourism activities. 

“This infrastructure has led us to draw again and again, without any moderation, from our reserves to support an agricultural model based on irrigation that has earned us the name ‘Europe’s back garden’,” he said. “But at what cost? We have placed our water tables in a state of hydric stress. Today, also taking into account the increasingly visible consequences of global warming, this model is no longer sustainable.”


Patricio Garcia-Fayos, director of the Desertification Research Centre in Valencia, said that climate change, coupled with the overexploitation of groundwater, is accelerating “the desertification of Spain”.

“It’s essential to fight against climate change and at the same time learn how to manage our water better. Otherwise, a large part of Spain will be a desert in a few years.”

The United Nations has already sounded the alarm on Spain’s growing water scarcity, estimating that almost 75 percent of the country is already in the process of desertification.

Desertification also increases the risk of wildfire, as dried vegetation is ideal combustible material. Last year, Spain suffered the largest number of wildfires in Europe, recording more than 500, with over 300,000 hectares going up in flames, according to the European Forest Fire Information System.

This year, some 40,000 hectares have already been eaten up by flames, fuelled by the higher temperatures, the drier soils and the hotter winds. Spain’s State Meteorological Agency has already issued a warning of “extreme risk of fire” for a large part of the country.

New water mindset

Seeing the crisis Spain is currently facing, most experts have come to the same conclusion: “We urgently need to adapt to this new, more arid climate, and totally rethink our water management system,” said Olcina of the University of Alicante.

“Building more water reservoirs no longer makes sense: We have no more water to put in the reserves,” he said. “Instead, we have to develop new ways to use water, such as by reusing wastewater. But above all, we need to use water more thoughtfully.” 

Barea, of Greenpeace, agreed. “Let’s reduce the irrigated areas,” he said. “We have to stop feeding into the illusion and using water that doesn’t exist.”

This piece has been translated from the original in French. 


Source link

#country #desert #Droughtstruck #Spain #running #water

Faced with summer restrictions, this is how France uses its water

Issued on: Modified:

France extracts approximately 31 billion cubic metres of fresh water from its natural sources each year. Faced with an ongoing winter drought that could lead to water restrictions this summer, FRANCE 24 looks at the different ways the country consumes water. 

France experienced a historic drought in the summer of 2022, followed by an equally dry winter. Alarm bells are still ringing this year as the country braces itself for yet another arid summer. On Wednesday March 1, 2023, four French departments were already subject to restrictions: Ain, Isère, Bouches-du-Rhône and the Pyrénées-Orientales. Inhabitants of these areas are forbidden to water their lawns, fill their swimming pools, and farmers are prohibited from irrigating their crops.  

“And the number [of departments facing restrictions] will inevitably grow,” warned Ecological Transition Minister Christophe Béchu on Monday evening, as he called on authorities of France’s seven major river basins to issue restriction orders “as of now” to anticipate a summer drought.  

Whether in agriculture, industry or domestic use, “sobriety” and “saving water” are the current watchwords being used by the French government. FRANCE 24 decided to take stock of how water is used and consumed across the country.  

>> France’s unprecedented drought shows climate change is ‘spiralling out of control’ 

Around 31 billion cubic metres of fresh water extracted yearly 

Every year, France extracts around 31 billion cubic metres of fresh water from its rivers and groundwater sources, according to the Ministry of Ecological Transition. Next to the 208 billion cubic metres of water available on average, this may not seem like much. But in order to maintain a balanced ecosystem, it’s essential for most water to stay in nature.  

Add to this the fact that the renewal of water supplies can vary greatly from one year to the next, depending on the amount of rainfall. In 2019 for example, it was estimated that only 142 billion mof water were available, far from the average 208 billion. And that’s exactly what’s worrying scientists and meteorologists for the summer of 2023. According to French national meteorological service Météo-France, 15 of the past 18 months have seen rainfall deficits. 

Another issue is that most water extraction takes place in the summer, when groundwater and river levels are already at their lowest. The French Ministry of Ecology estimates that 60% of all water consumption takes place between June and August.  

So where does all this fresh water go? While some of it is used domestically, flowing through our taps and showerheads, the rest is used for economic purposes, primarily to cool (mostly nuclear) power plants.   

How is water used in France? © Studio graphique FMM


It’s important to note that water used to cool power plants and supply water wheels comes from surface water like rivers or reservoirs, while water used for drinking, agriculture or industry comes from both surface water and groundwater.   

Agriculture, main consumer of water 

It’s also important to consider that water extracted for consumption is water that will not be returned to its natural source after being used. Water sent to nuclear power plants, however, is used in an open circuit and therefore returned to nature after it is used. As for agriculture, water used for livestock is never sent back.  

Between 2008 and 2019, the average amount of water extracted for consumption reached 5.3 billion cubic metres per year in France. And this time, agriculture took the lead as the main consumer of water, far ahead of power plant cooling, industry and drinking water. 

Agriculture is France's main water consumer
Agriculture is France’s main water consumer © Studio graphique FMM


“In agriculture, water is mostly used to irrigate crops,” explains Sami Bouarfa, a researcher at the French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (INRAE) and deputy director of the AQUA department. “Even if the share of crops that need irrigation represent only 6% of all cultivated land.”  

>> Will France’s record-breaking summer of 2022 boost efforts to fight climate change? 

And the type of water use varies greatly from department to department. According to the 2021 environmental report by the Ministry of Ecology, the Adour-Garonne basin in southwest France is where most extractions for agriculture take place. The Rhône-Méditerranée basin, on the other hand, uses water in power plants and is the most water-hungry area. As for the Seine-Normandy and Picardy basins, water extracted is mainly used to produce drinking water.   

A French person consumes 149 litres of drinking water daily 

In 2020, 5.5 billion cubic metres of water were pumped from natural sources and transformed into drinking water. But by the end of the year, only 3.7 billion had been consumed, according to the latest report from France’s Observatory of Public Water and Sanitation Services (SISPEA). The discrepancy is entirely due to leakages that occur in the pipes carrying our drinking water from source to tap. SISPEA estimates that 20% of all drinking water in France, or one in every five litres, is lost to leakages.  

Drinking water
Drinking water © Studio graphique FMM


Asides what is wasted, a French person will consume 149 litres of drinking water per day on average, close to the European average of 200 litres, but far behind the daily consumption of a person from the US, who consumes 600 litres on average. In countries with insufficient water resources, daily consumption can drop to less than 20 litres per person.  

According to the Water Information Centre, around 93% of water used in French households is dedicated to hygiene – showering, flushing the toilet or using the washing machine. The remaining 7% goes on food. Car washing uses an average of 200 litres of water, showering about 50 litres and washing clothes around 60 litres.  


Main domestic uses of drinking water
Main domestic uses of drinking water © Studio graphique FMM


In addition to domestic use, there is also the collective use of drinking water in schools and hospitals.  

This article was translated from the original in French. 

Source link

#Faced #summer #restrictions #France #water