The projected increase for Europe between the end of the 20th and 21st centuries varies from 2.3 °C to 6 °C, depending on the scenario considered. Climate projections also indicate an increase in incidence of heat waves and extreme events. It is important to understand and quantify the consequences of all these factors in terms of health in the next decades as they are considered some of the key impacts of future climate change. They include both direct impacts, such as temperature-related illness and death, and the impacts of extreme weather events and indirect impacts, as those that cause water- and food-borne diseases.
The PESETA II project of the European Commission – Joint Research Centre, started in 2011 aims at assessing these effects for EU 27 both in physical and economic terms, using quantitative modelling and literature review, in several fields (including health) following a bottom-up approach.
Long term climatic forecasts (up to 2100) from four different climate models referred to two alternative scenarios (A1B, with high emissions and E1, with low emissions) are used as input in the health model. Age-specific population projections are elaborated from EUROSTAT data. Data and projections are available at NUTS2 level for EU 27.
The model assesses the impacts of both heat and heat waves on mortality and morbidity (respiratory diseases, salmonellosis and campylobacteriosis).
The model calculates the effects of temperature and temperature-related indicators using exposure-response functions calibrated on the basis of epidemiologic literature. At European level, on average, the climate change-attributable deaths will increase significantly over the next 90 years around 40,000 additional annual deaths in the period between 2010 and 2040 to more than 140,000 in the latest 30 years of the century.
Comparing the baseline with climate change scenarios, first model results show that by 2100 the impact in terms of years of life lost for the whole Europe, will be around 12000 M Euros per year but there are sensitive differences among regions. Much lower impacts are found under the E1 scenario and when some level of adaptation is assumed.
The effects on food- and water-borne diseases are limited. Climate change is estimated to cause additional 7550 cases of salmonellosis per year if incidence remains at current levels.
Alternative health economic evaluations have been proposed to quantify mortality and morbidity impacts.