Climate change


The Commission's 2009 working paper on impact of climate change on human, animal and plant health  explains:

  • how climate change will affect human, animal and plant health
  • what action the EU and its member countries must take in response to these changes
  • what tools and financing are already available to tackle the challenges that will arise.

This document was developed based on the broad outline of the White Paper on the Adaptation to the Climate Change

Human health

Climate change will have:

  • direct effects on human health, e.g. changes in the incidence of diseases transmitted by insects (mosquitoes and ticks)
  • indirect effects, e.g. through changes in water and air quality., or the impacts from extreme weather conditions

EU countries are encouraged to cooperate in order to act more effectively in this context. Preparedness planning  has been reviewed to take account of climate change, and it will be tested for responsiveness and coordination between countries, with particularly focus on national preparedness plans.

Animal health

Recent evolutions indicate that climate change has an impact on animal health such as the emergence of the vector-borne disease Bluetongue in 2006 and its spread up to Sweden - outside its previously known distribution range.

The new Community Animal Health Strategy focuses on preventing rather than reacting to animal diseases. Its Action plan considers the influence of Climate Change on Animal Health.

A new Animal Disease Information System (ADIS) is being developed to improve the gathering of epidemiological data. Stepping up animal disease surveillance and the establishment of further vaccine banks for certain animal diseases will enable risk managers to better respond to emerging disease situations.

Plant health

Changes in climate impact on the susceptibility of plants to pests and diseases. In addition, warmer summers and shorter winters will in general result in increasing populations of harmful organisms and extension of their geographic range, and will enable new ones to become established in the EU. The crops selected for cultivation will also change in response to climate change, bringing fresh opportunities for pests and diseases.

The current EU plant health regime – currently under review – focuses on quarantine to combat pests and diseases that can impact agriculture, forestry and the natural environment. A new plant health strategy will be developed so as to better address, among others, the consequences of climate change in the EU plant health legislation.

Cooperation with international organisations

The Commission is closely co-operating with the international organisations such as WHO (World Health Organisation), OIE (World Animal Health Organisation), IPPC (International Plant Protection Convention) and FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN).

Promotion and support

The Commission's Public Health Programme funds projects  and other initiatives addressing climate change

The Commission provides funding for national action on surveillance and information measures (on urban pollution, allergen emission and seasonality, exposure to ultraviolet rays, etc).

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has several projects relating to climate change, notably the E3 Network, which models and maps the various types of risks of infectious diseases.

EU funded research into emerging diseases is also ongoing under the Framework 7 programme (ARBO-ZOONET)