Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Ski resorts in danger

The Independent - 14th April 2001

Sir

The climate of relations between Europe and the US is certainly cooling as a result of disagreements over the need to ratify the Kyoto accords, even if there are promises to return to the negotiating table in Bonn in July with a watered-down American version for reconsideration.

The consensus opinion of the scientists from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is that global warming is with us and that drastic measures (beyond even the 8 per cent reduction target by 2001 of Kyoto) are required to prevent catastrophic natural disasters and conflict by the end of the century.

What seems to be less appreciated here in Europe are the changes likely to occur in the next ten years in the Alpine winter sporting communities, ranging from the French and Swiss Alps through to the Tatras of Central Europe, where the snowline is gradually receding, the permafrost and the glaciers rapidly melting. This will drive away business to the highest mountains in Europe or the more northern resorts of Sweden, with devastating effects on many local communities and serious disruption to local economies.

Another, more serious consequence, unless Europeans are particularly vigilant to reduce exposure, is that with skiing taking place at higher altitudes with more rarefied atmospheric cover and a reduced ozone level we might see an increase in fatal melanomas in winter sport enthusiasts. As a doctor and a politician I am obviously concerned about such consequences of climate change.

Dr Charles Tannock, MEP (Con)
Brussels