Climate change, impacts and vulnerability in Europe 2012


Courtesy of European Environment Agency (EEA)

This European Environment Agency (EEA) report presents information on past and projected climate change and related impacts in Europe, based on a range of indicators. The report also assesses the vulnerability of society, human health and ecosystems in Europe and identifies those regions in Europe most at risk from climate change. Furthermore, the report discusses the principle sources of uncertainty for the indicators and notes how monitoring and scenario development can improve our understanding of climate change, its impacts and related vulnerabilities.

Key messages

  • Climate change (increases in temperature, changes in precipitation and decreases in ice and snow) is occurring globally and in Europe; some of the observed changes have established records in recent years.
  • Observed climate change has already led to a wide range of impacts on environmental systems and society; further climate change impacts are projected for the future.
  • Climate change can increase existing vulnerabilities and deepen socio‑economic imbalances in Europe.
  • Damage costs from natural disasters have increased; the contribution of climate change to these costs is projected to increase in the future.
  • The combined impacts of projected climate change and socio‑economic development can lead to high damage costs; these costs can be reduced significantly by mitigation and adaptation actions.
  • The causes of the most costly climate impacts are projected to differ strongly across Europe.
  • On-going and planned monitoring and research at national and EU level can improve assessments of past and projected impacts of climate change, thereby enhancing the knowledge base for adaptation.


Why such a report?
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has agreed to limit the increase in global mean temperature since pre.industrial times to less than 2C, in order to prevent the most severe impacts of climate change. Current global actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions ('mitigation') are insufficient to constrain the temperature increase to 2C, and global warming could be well above 2C by 2100. Even if the 2 °C limit is kept, substantial impacts on society, human health and ecosystems are projected to occur. Adaptation to and mitigation of climate change are therefore both needed.

The European Commission has initiated various actions to integrate and mainstream adaptation into EU sectoral policies following the publication of the White Paper on adaptation to climate change in 2009. Furthermore, many countries in Europe have already adopted national adaptation strategies and some have followed up with specific action plans. The European Commission plans publishing its European Adaptation Strategy in 2013, which will include further proposals for adaptation actions across the EU.

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