What is a LIFE+ project?

The LIFE + program is an instrument of the European Union to finance projects that contribute to the development and implementation of environmental community policy.

Depending on the topic, the projects fall under one of these two subprograms:

  • Sub LIFE Environment: “Environment and resource efficiency", "Nature and Biodiversity" and "Information and Environmental Governance" are priority areas.

  • Sub LIFE Climate Action: "Mitigation", "Adaptation" and "Governance and climate information" are priority areas.

Read more about the LIFE + programme at:

- Legislation

- F.A.Q. Life +

What are the GHG?

GHG are greenhouse gases.

The greenhouse effect is a natural phenomenon that allows the Earth to have a temperature suitable for life: energy from the sun passes through the atmosphere, warms the Earth, but some gases naturally present in the atmosphere (such as CO2, steam water, CH4 and ozone) prevent some external radiation from escaping again into space. In the absence of this phenomenon (which is very similar to what happens in greenhouses used in agriculture) Earth would freeze.

However, the current problem is that the quantity of these gases (as CO2, N2O and CH4) within our atmosphere has increased sharply due to human (anthropogenic) action. This leads to Earth warming, especially atmosphere and oceans, with a subsequent increase in average temperatures of the planet in the last century. A continued increase would cause an ice reduction at poles and glaciers with the consequent flooding of densely populated coastal areas.

Many human activities such as those related to industry, agriculture and transport emit GHG into the atmosphere, contributing to the greenhouse effect and consequently to the global warming and climate change.

What is the difference between adaptation and mitigation?

Climate change is a fact with serious consequences. Therefore, countries must adopt practical measures for reducing or correcting the causes (mitigation) and for lessening its effects (adaptation).

Reduction of greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions is one of the most important mitigation measures. Enhancing coastal defense systems to avoid the impacts of sea level rise is an example of adaptation measure.

These two measures are supplementary, and the combination and synergy of both are necessary to establish measures against climate change.

Is sea level rise only due to climate change?

No, there are different phenomena that cause sea level rise:

- Melting ice caps and thermal expansion of water due to global warming and climate change.

- Subsidence, which is the natural sinking that land suffers due to its own weight, and particularly affects the deltas.

Thus, rising sea levels are a result of a combination of different factors (climate change and also natural subsidence), along with effects due to human activity.For example, at the Ebro Delta rising sea levels due to global warming and terrain subsidence are exacerbated by the scarce amount of sediments now deposited by the river (because they are held at dams).

What is subsidence?

Subsidence is the natural sinking (a gradual settling) of large areas of land without there necessarily being hollow spaces underground. In river deltas subsidence mainly occurs because of the compacting of the ground itself under its own weight.

The effects of this naturally occurring phenomenon in the Ebro Delta is made worse due to the lack of river-transported sediments. The natural flow of water and sediments downstream was severely reduced by the construction of reservoirs at Flix and Riba-roja in the 1960s. Previous to this, these sediments helped to raise the ground level of the Delta (an action known as vertical accretion). In fact, rice farmers traditionally used river sediments to raise the level of their rice fields and reduce their salinity – another problem faced by rice producers.

This loss of land means that different areas around the coastline of the Delta are vanishing, making the Delta more vulnerable to problems caused by rain storms and sea storms. Some cultivated areas near the shoreline have already disappeared.

This current situation has been worsened by the rise in sea level due to climate change. Worst case scenario predictions estimate that about 45% of the Delta’s land surface could end up below sea level during the 21st century.

For this reason, a detailed study of the most vulnerable areas of the Delta is essential in order to be able to prioritize different actions to protect the Delta.

Do rice fields emit greenhouse gases?

Rice plants, like any other crop, emit carbon dioxide (CO2) when they respire and this is one of the gases which contribute to the greenhouse effect.

However, rice cultivation also produces methane (CH4), another greenhouse gas which has an effect on global warming up to 25 times greater than that of CO2. Methane is emitted from rice fields when they are farmed using the flooding method whereby the fields are continuously waterlogged.

The layer of water present in the fields acts as a barrier preventing oxygen from passing from the atmosphere into the ground. Thus the soil becomes gradually more and more anoxic (oxygen-less) which leads to favourable conditions for the growth and activity of methanogenic bacteria which decompose organic matter in an anaerobic way (without oxygen). Methane is emitted during this process. The methane rises into the atmosphere either through the water or through the rice plant itself.

All the rice produced in the Delta is grown in fields waterlogged almost all year round. In fact 55% of world rice production is carried out using this method.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that between 5 and 20% of anthropogenic emissions of methane are caused by rice production. Introducing measures to mitigate these emissions will play a significant role in the fight against climate change.

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