The first European Climate Risk Assessment is out

6 May 2024

Globally, 2023 was the warmest year on record, and the average global temperature in the 12-month period between February 2023 and January 2024 exceeded pre-industrial levels by 1.5°C. Europe is the fastest-warming continent.

The first European Climate Risk Assessment report developed by the European Environmental Agency (EEA) builds on and complements the existing knowledge base on climate impacts and risks for Europe in order to produce recommendations for EU short-term policy action. 

This knowledge is developed from recent reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Copernicus Climate Change Service and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, as well as outcomes of EU-funded research and development projects and national climate risk assessments. 

Key Highlights of the report: 

When applying the scales of severity used in the report, several climate risks in Europe have already reached critical levels. As the experts have agreed, if decisive action is not taken now, most climate risks identified could reach critical or catastrophic levels by the end of the 21st century. For instance, hundreds of thousands of people would die from heat waves and economic losses from coastal floods alone could exceed EUR 1 trillion per year. 

Climate risks to ecosystems, people and the economy depend on non-climatic risk drivers as much as on the climate-related hazards themselves. Effective policies and action at European and national levels can therefore help reduce these risks to a significant degree. The extent to which we can avoid damages will largely depend on how quickly we can reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, and how fast and effectively we can prepare our societies and adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change. For this reason, the report also proposes the most urgent priorities for action to mitigate the most significant climate risks

Why is it an important publication? 

This first-of-its-kind report has identified and assessed the 36 major climate risks for Europe, grouped into five broad sections: ecosystems, food, health, infrastructure, and economy and finance. Moreover, each section compiles the most urgent policy recommendations. 

The report explains that more than half (21 out of the 36) major climate risks for Europe identified need more action in the short-term, with eight of them being particularly urgent. Urgent action is needed for risks from all policy clusters, indicating that policies need to increase in ambition, scope and implementation. A third of these risks need further investigation, including more research, better monitoring or a review of the policy framework.

Read the executive summary and the official full report (unedited yet) on the European Environmental Agency (EEA) website