According to a report commissioned by the National Climate Commission, production of two of Belgium’s iconic products, beer and fries, could be severely affected by climate change.
The Commission has released a report titled “Evaluation of the socio-economic impact of climate change in Belgium”. It poses forecasts on the effects of climate change, and the effect on a variety of economic sectors.
The Brussels Times quotes from the report: “In recent years Belgium has experienced persistently mild winters, recurring drought episodes and a succession of hot summers, culminating in the unprecedented temperature extremes recorded during the summer of 2019. These phenomena have already affected agricultural yield, mortality figures and labour productivity loss, among other things.”
Increased temperatures, coupled with temperature extremes, have an effect on labour productivity, especially in outdoor work like construction. Heatwaves have a negative effect on health, particularly among vulnerable populations, although there is an opposite effect from milder winters.
A combination of drought and heatwave in 2018 led to a loss of 31% of the potato crop in Flanders (which accounts for the great majority of the country’s production), as well as 13% of sugar beets and 10% of cereals. And it might become worse.
Belgium is one of the world’s largest exporters of pre-cooked and frozen potato products, exporting to 150 countries. Drought is the main concern – the 2018 drought led to price increases of 23%.