Futuribles Journal n° 437

Population - Ressources naturelles, énergie, environnement - Territoires, réseaux

The Sea is Rising: Impacts and Strategies. Scenarios to 2100 and Adaptative Trajectories

In October 2019, AllEnvi [the French National Alliance for Environmental Research] published the findings of a foresight study on the environmental, social and economic consequences of rising sea levels — one of the direct manifestations of climate change — in the years to 2100 and the way we might anticipate these consequences and prepare for them. That exercise, based on the scenario-building method, enabled eight general scenarios and three territorial focuses to be developed. Denis Lacroix and Nicolas Rocle outline its main lessons here.

After first going into the framing, methodology and context involved, they present the scenarios in three family groups (‘Coastal adaptation’, ‘Denial’ and ‘Fragmented World’), together with the territorial focuses relating to the Aquitaine Basin, the Netherlands and Vietnam. These scenarios reveal potential sea-level rises, the consequences for the coastline and the strategies to be adopted to mitigate the impacts and, most importantly, adapt to them.

Since the conditions for a reversal of the present situation (which would require highly virtuous global policies) are hardly likely to eventuate in any near timeframe, the aim is now to prepare for the coastline to be overwhelmed by the sea. The warning is all the more serious as a growing number of our contemporaries are concentrated in such areas, not to speak of the holidaymakers who rush there and of the other consequences that may ensue, as evidenced by the most exposed territories. To keep coastal areas in a state described by the authors as lying between ‘moderate’ and ‘serious’, it is essential that decision-makers and citizens work as of now on resilience and energy saving… We shall come back to this subject, this article being the first of a series on the sea that will continue in late 2020 or in 2021.

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