Climate Change in the Canary Islands


Climate Change

Climate Change

Update:  As of June 2013 it is necessary for Tenerife Properties which are being sold or rented out to have an Energy Performance Certificate which assists the Government in assessing Energy ratings of existing properties.

The Canary Islands Government have produced a report outlining their strategies to counter climate change and biodiversity loss. The report was presented to the EU in Paris last summer and it is in the public domain. The report was presented in a bullet point format and it is reproduced in this blog post.

Please also read our own comments at the foot of the post.

The Specific Challenges of Climate Change

  • Population: The total population of the Canary Islands is more than 2 million inhabitants.
  • Energy Vulnerability: “The risks and consequences associated with oil disruption are many times higher in the Canary Islands rather than in a territory in the mainland of Europe”.
  • Weather and health vulnerability: The probability is also higher of “extreme weather events” of or new infectious diseases to humans or vegetation.
  • Biodiversity loss: Overabundance of endemic wildlife and vegetation.
  • Extreme dependence of tourism. Risks associated to “supply crisis” and “global warming” gradually diverting tourism flows.
  • Climate Change and Environmental migrations: The Canary Islands would be the last outpost of the EU in the face of water and clima provoked, migration floods.

Sustainable Climate Change Strategies

  • Impact Analysis: Insufficiently developed. Most EU funded research programs (PRUDENCE,ADAM, PESETA) leave out the Canary Islands for geographical reasons.
  • Mitigation: Less potential of intense mitigation efforts (lower emissions per capita, lack of heavy industries, relatively higher energy for transport requirements).
  • Adaptation: The costs of adaptation are relatively higher, associated with the specific risks, the lower GDP per capita and the territorial fragmentation and distance from the mainland.
  • Mitigation and Adaptation are positive to reinforcing security of energy supply.
  • Potential for renewable energies: Important potential for fostering renewables (specially wind, solar and geothermal) and also to better energy rational use.
  • Laboratory of experimentation in climate change adaptation: The Canary Islands are close and suitable launching platforms for European technologies and know-how, related to climate change and renewable energies.

Facts and main impacts

  • Climatic conditions are changing.
  • Difficulty of accurate Climatic Scenarios: Because of dimension, topography, micro climes).
  • The standard grid resolution UE: 50 km (Prudence Model) or 20 km (Ensembles Model).
  • The resolution and meteorological models used in the case of the Canary islands are not so precise.

The future based on Meteorological forecasts.

  • Temperature: sea surface (+ 1ºC in 20 years). In land 2030: + 1ºC (sea level) + 2’5ºC (top mountains) 2060: + 2ºC (sea level)
  • Extreme heat waves (x 4 in 20 years) with more warmer nights (+ 35% in 20 years)
  • Humidity: + 1% a 2% every 10 years
  • Winds: Shifting direction (more high pressure weather conditions) and appearance of tropical storms.
  • Rain: – 20% in 2025 (with a higher incertitude).

The expected main impacts of Climate Change in the Canary Islands

  • Temperature Rise: Moderate in the medium to long term
  • Less Rain: High probability in the medium to long term
  • Sea level rise: High probability in the medium to long term
  • More extreme events: Moderate in the short to long term
  • Tropical diseases: Moderate in the medium to long term
  • Impacts on biodiversity: High probability in the medium to long term
  • Higher transport costs: High probability in the short to long term

Greenhouse gas emmisions by sector during 2005

  • Energy 94.4%
    • Electricity production and oil refining: 52.5%
    • Land Transport: 27.9%
    • Air Transport: 5%
    • Maritime Transport: 1.6%
    • Other Sectors: 7.4%
  • Industrial Processes: 1.8%
  • Solvent Uses: 0.7%
  • Agricultural Uses: 3.1%
  • Land use and reforestation: -3.5% (Negative)
  • Waste: 3.5%

It is forecast that a “business as usual approach” will result in an 89% increase on the 1990 figures by 2015. Even so, greenhouse gas emissions per capita will still be 60% of the average level of the 27 EU member states.

Compromises and Strategies: What are the Canary Islands doing

It is planned to concentrate highly on the energy and waste sectors to redress the balance by 2015, as follows:

  • Energy: 89.2%
  • Industrial Processes: 1.4%
  • Solvent Uses: 0.1%
  • Agricultural Uses: 0.1%
  • Land Use and reforestation: 0.3%
  • Waste: 7.0%

A summary of measures to meet these targets

  • Towards a “greener taxation” promoting mitigation and sustainability.
  • Extensive R+D program:
    • Focusing on Climate Change impacts. Promoting energy technologies adapted to local conditions. In depth studies on local biodiversity safeguarding. Adaptation models and patterns
    • Reinforcing international cooperation of local Universities and research centers
    • Information and education: From “cradle to grave”.
    • Schools, universities, media and social groups educational active involvement.

Challenges and Obstacles

  • Most of the emmisions are linked to basic social needs, (electricity, transport and  water) or related to tourist activities.
  • A hisotrical extensive use of territory with an induced strong mobility demand.
  • High Vulnerability (environmental, economy and social)
  • High adaption costs ( remoteness, geographical conditions and few locally produced raw materials.

Social Attitudes

  • Enery use reduction associated with loss of quality of life.
  • A large number of public administrations involved.
  • The need to mobilise and change public attitudes.

Monitoring and updating the strategy

  • Produce an annual report.
  • Carry out a detailed regional inventory of greenhouse gas emissions every two years.
  • Update the strategy every 4 years of as circumstances dictate.

The EU Government have agreed extend the results of studies to include the Canary Islands. They have also created a regional fund for the Canary Islands to cover the cost of adaption. They also propose to use the Canary Islands to experiment with European technology related to renewable energy and climate change mitigation. Tenerife has already gone some way towards experimenting with wind and solar energy.


About Expedia Tenerife Property
Estate Agent living and working in Tenerife as a property consultant

2 Responses to Climate Change in the Canary Islands

  1. It is reassuring to know that the Canary Islands Government and the EU are monitoring the situation and making provisions to reduce climate change.

    What this report does highlight is the special vulnerability of the Canary Islands to climate change, due their location and the effects of tourism in meeting target reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

    It would be interesting to know what the real affects of tourism are in repsect of climate change, especially if you include carbon emissions from aircraft. Where do they get accounted for?

    Energy is still by far the largest factor in contributing towards greenhouse gas emissions. Harnessing renewable energy, with wind farms and photovoltaic cells is already having an impact on GHG here in Tenerife. Reducing carbon fuel consumption is the key to slowing climate change no matter where you are.

    The Canary Islands are but very small landmasses on a big planet and it is the actions of others who will ultimately dictate the effects of climate change.

    Interestingly due to the climate here there is not much call for central heating or air conditioning but ironically, sooner or later air conditioning will become a major factor in increasing carbon emissions.

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