Knowledge for policy

Climate change and environmental degradation

Even if all emissions from human activities would suddenly stop, the climate would continue to change. However, continued unabated, anthropogenic pollution and greenhouse gas emissions will further increase global warming, ocean acidification, desertification and changing climate patterns.

Aggravated by pollution, overexploitation of natural resources and environmental degradation, these will lead to severe, pervasive and irreversible changes for people, assets, economies and ecosystems around the world.

Developments and Forecasts

Greenhouse gas emissions and pollution

Greenhouse gas emissions and pollution are increasing, largely driven by economic and population growth. Meantime, the Earth’s biodiversity and resilience shows persistent declining trends.

Greenhouse gas emissions

Pollution, e-waste

Land, Water and Biodiversity

Global warming

Global sea levels are rising at an average rate of 3.4 millimetres per year, the Arctic sea ice volume reached record low in 2018, Antarctic ice sheet melting rate has accelerated threefold over the last five years, and exposure to natural hazards doubled in the last 40 years, affecting an increasing number of people.

Rising temperatures

Melting ice cover and permafrost

High impact events and natural hazards

Space weather events

Potential consequences

Food security, rising sea levels and stronger storms affecting coastal areas, health issues, migration, and growing economic damages are only a few of the immediate implications of climate change.

Livelihoods at risk

Biodiversity and food security

Population displacement

Health risks

More Developments and Forecasts

​Potential Implications

Efforts have to increase for developing strategies to address the root causes of anthropogenic climate change, as well as for building resilience for some of the most severe impacts of climate change and environmental degradation.

Reduce GHG emissions

Urban development

Techniques for addressing pollution

Increasing resilience

The Sustainable Development Goals

More Potential implications


Indicators to measure change and potential forecasts.

Ecological wealth of nations -- see interactive map
Source: Global Footprint Network, Ecological deficit/reserve

Accelerating warming- combination of three trends: rising emissions, declining air pollution and natural climate cycle
Source: Global warming will happen faster than we think, Nature 564


Accelerating warming
©Global warming will happen faster than we think, Nature 564, 30-32 (2018) doi: 10.1038/d41586-018-07586-5

More Indicators

Relevant EC Work

EU policy papers and projects relevant to climate change and environmental degradation

Models relevant to climate change and environmental degradation used by the EC

TIM (Tools for Innovation Monitoring) is a tool developed by the EC Joint Research Centre to monitor and better understand the different facets of innovation and technological development.
Use TIM to explore R&I related to climate change and environmental degradation


©TIM, JRC European Commission

The EMM News Brief, Europe Media Monitoring, is a fully automatic system that analyses both traditional and social media. It gathers and aggregates about 300,000 news articles per day from news portals world-wide in up to 70 languages. 
Use EMM News Brief to explore worldwide news related to climate change and environmental degradation

More EC work

Other resources​

Selected resources relevant to climate change and environmental degradation

More Resources

Disclaimer: the content presented in this Megatrends Hub does not represent the views of the JRC or those of the EC, nor an endorsement by them.

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