Calling Code Red, Dutch Official Says Country Faces Climate Change Extremes

Dutch climate experts warned Monday of more severe weather, rising sea levels and extreme rainfall, even as the stricken country is still recovering from past storms, the Associated Press said.

"The climate crisis is here. It's code red, and it is up to us all to act.... Adapting to extreme weather and anticipating sea level rises must be a top priority for a new government," said Rogier van der Sande, chairman of the Dutch Union of Water Boards.

The Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, known by its Dutch acronym KNMI, reported that greenhouse gas emissions and Antarctic ice cap melting will also contribute to the climate crisis in the Netherlands. It predicted that the coastline's sea level could rise by nearly 4 feet by 2100 if gas emissions are not reduced. The institute also warned that the sea level could rise an additional 1 meter by 2100 if the Antarctic ice cap melting accelerates.

The warnings accompanied forecasts of dangerous rainfall and extreme floods and droughts across the area, the AP said. These predicted crises would come after a harsh summer of widespread flooding and dozens of deaths across Germany and Belgium.

Steven Weyenberg, the Dutch state secretary for infrastructure and water, said the warnings may be grim but need to be heard. "It might not be cheerful reading, but it is necessary reading. Talking about climate change as something we do for our children underestimates the urgency," he said.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Netherlands faces more harsh storms
Dutch climate experts warned Monday of continuing severe weather, rising sea levels and extreme rainfall. Above, Wiel de Bie, 75, stands outside his flooded home in the town of Brommelen, Netherlands, on July 17. Bram Janssen/Associated Press

The KNMI issued the stark warning in a new update based on its own research and a report issued in August by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The Dutch report was presented less than a week before the U.N.'s annual climate conference opens in Glasgow, Scotland. The October 31-November 12 event, known as COP26, is seen by many as an important and even crucial opportunity for concrete government commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The low-lying Netherlands is protected by thousands of kilometers of dikes along its rivers and its North Sea coast, and it has a national Delta Fund that invests hundreds of millions each year in improvements and maintenance.

Four parties are currently negotiating to form the next Dutch ruling coalition, with climate measures one of the topics they are discussing.

Weyenberg said it is clear more has to be done.