EU Science Hub

Impacts of climate change

The European Commission is working to make the European economy more climate-friendly with both mitigation and adaptation policies.  

Mitigation policies aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and so produce benefits in terms of avoided climate damages; adaptation policies are deployed to minimize the expected impacts


/jrc/en/file/video/156012Economic impact of climate change in Europe

The JRC contributes to the definition and implementation of climate change policies by assessing the economic impacts of on-going and future climate change and the related adaptation strategies. It pays particular attention to the comparison of the geographical and sectoral damage patterns in order to provide insights for the prioritisation of adaptation policies.

The assessment of the physical and economic impacts of specific climate change scenarios, both at European level and international level, is based on the integration of the relevant scientific disciplines, including climate change modelling, biophysical impact models and economic models. The methodological toolbox for the assessment is conceived around a computable general equilibrium model (GEM-E3), complemented with bottom-up biophysical models (e.g. hydrological models that simulate river floods). Other models operational at JRC in this area include MaGE (developed by CEPII, Agnès Bénassy-Quéré, Lionel Fontagné and Jean Fouré) and the POLES global energy model.


JRC PESETA project (Projection of Economic impacts of climate change in Sectors of the European Union based on bottom-up Analysis, part I and II) provides a multi-sectoral assessment of the physical and economic impacts of climate change in Europe for the 2071-2100 time horizon.

The main motivation for this project is to better understand how climate change can affect Europe, in order to derive useful insights for climate adaptation. The research integrates what is known on climate impacts in the various natural science disciplines into the economic analysis. It takes into consideration current projections on estimated CO2 emissions, the potential range of climate variations (temperature, rain, wind, solar radiation, air humidity) and the biophysical impacts (agriculture yields, river floods, and transport infrastructure losses) to assess the economic burden of potential climate scenarios. It focuses on the impacts of climate change on nine sectors: agriculture, coastal systems, river floods, droughts, tourism, human health, energy, transport infrastructure and forest fires. High time-space resolution climate data feed highly detailed sector-specific impact models to estimate the biophysical impacts.

According to its conclusions, if no further action is taken and global temperature increases by 3.5°C, climate damages in the EU could amount to at least €190 billion, a net welfare loss of 1.8% of its current GDP. Several weather-related extremes could roughly double their average frequency. As a consequence, heat-related deaths could reach about 200 000, the cost of river flood damages could exceed €10 billion and 8000 km2 of forest could burn in southern Europe. The number of people affected by droughts could increase by a factor of seven and coastal damage, due to sea-level rise, could more than triple. These economic assessments are based on scenarios where the climate expected by the end of the century (2080s) occurs in the current population and economic landscape.

The project benefits largely from past DG Research projects that have developed impact modelling capabilities and high-resolution climate scenarios for Europe.