Temperatures that have consistently been higher than average are destroying buildings on the islands.
Temperatures that have been higher than ever this spring have damaged buildings on the northern Norwegian islands of Svalbard, leading to the country issuing its first climate bill. Hotels and an information centre are among the buildings suffering structural damage.
The damage is due to the permafrost under the building melting, causing the previously stable ground to give way. The research station and visitor information centre at Ny-Ålesund now has severe cracks, destroying the floors and the walls, according to press reports and the site Norway Today.
The Funken Lodge conference hotel has already been given new foundations, as have the Coal Miners Cabins and the Norwegian Authority on Svalbard (Sysselmannsgård).
The entrance to the famous seed bank in Longyearbyen has also been damaged.
The government’s revised state budget has set aside an additional NOK 148 million (€15.5 million) for construction and infrastructure work on Svalbard, while NOK 25 million will be used to repair the service centre.
“Climate change will lead to increased costs in the years to come,” warns Ola Elvestuen, minister for climate and the environment. “The damage we will repair is an early example of the challenges that will come.”
Svalbard has consistently had an average temperature that is above the norm for the last eight years, and the minister emphasises an urgent need for international agreements to reach the 2°C global temperature target.
“If we do not succeed with the climate policy, we will experience huge costs due to melting and other negative effects of global warming,” she said.