Andorra (Global Warming)

Situated in the Pyrenees Mountains along the French-Spanish border, Andorra is approximately 180 sq. mi. (470 sq. km.), or the size of New Orleans, Louisiana. The population (est. 80,000) inhabits a region with a cool, temperate climate, amid mountainous terrain. Its economic revenues come from tourism and regional agricultural specialization, both industries with links to climate change. With nearly 12 million visitors per year, tourism comprises over 80 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Roadways are limited and inadequate, making stagnant traffic commonplace. Pollution swells during the peak winter and summer tourist seasons, reducing air quality and concentrating greenhouse gases in the valleys. These conditions are exacerbated by high carbon dioxide emissions from low-grade coal-burning power plants in Andorra and northern Spain.

The stronghold of Andorran tourism is the ski industry. Like much of mountainous Europe, Andorra has seen snowfall amounts decline and winter seasons considerably shortened in recent decades. Global climate models indicate European locations below 4,921 ft. (1,500 m.) are most vulnerable to permanent snow loss. Unlike many Alpine locations, Andorran ski resorts are largely above this critical altitude. Snow reduction impacts include a decrease in tourism, investment in snowmaking machines, cancellation of winter events, and expansion of alpine grasslands. Diminished tourism revenue has prompted a recently-proposed corporate tax, a controversial initiative for a historically tax-free state.

Unlike most of the European community, Andorra is not active in global climate change policy and state-sponsored efforts are minimal. An official position regarding the Kyoto Protocol has not been entered according to the latest poll (2007) from the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCC). Despite close socioeconomic ties with France and Spain, Andorra has not followed the climate initiatives of its neighbors by ratifying the treaty. Instead, Andorra maintains neutrality and observer status in these proceedings, a similar position retained by Serbia and the Vatican City, the only other European states not to have ratified the protocol.

The Andorran Weather Service, established in 1980 as a joint effort with Meteo-France to homogenize data for the region, conducts climate monitoring. The service has three automated weather stations and seven manual ski resort stations. Continuous weather data monitoring began in 1934, with three stations (Ransol’s Dam, Casa del Guardia d’Engolasters, and the Central) providing the primary historical climate record.

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