Global warming could more than double costs caused by drought in Europe, study finds
According to a JRC study published on May 10 in Nature Climate Change, in the absence of action to limit and adapt to climate change, the impact of droughts on Europe’s economy could reach over €65 billion a year by 2100.
As a share of the total GDP of EU countries and the UK, this is more than double the annual €9 billion costs of droughts today: 0.15% of total GDP, compared to 0.07% today. Most of these impacts can be avoided by reducing carbon emissions to keep global warming well below 2°C by the end of the century, and by increasing the resilience of drought-sensitive sectors.
Climate change will cause more frequent and intense droughts in southern and western parts of Europe. This will lead to higher damages to economic sectors that depend on water availability, like agriculture, energy production and public water supply. The researchers developed a new method of drought modelling to quantify these potential impacts across Europe’s regions. They found the highest increases in drought losses in southern and western parts of Europe, where drought conditions at 4°C could reduce regional agriculture economic output by 10%. With no action, the economic costs as a share of GDP by 2100 could reach 0.3% in Romania and 0.24% in Bulgaria, the two countries with the highest projected losses in the EU. The impacts on Europe’s countries could be reduced by 40%-60% with appropriate mitigation and adaptation measures.
Action to lessen the impact of droughts
The study’s findings can help in targeting regional EU investments to address the unequal burden of drought impacts and the differences in adaptation capacities. The study recommends targeting adaptation measures in drought-sensitive regions and sectors, such as:
♦ increase the natural retention capacity of river basins, creating the conditions for storage
♦ water conservation and water-saving practices;
♦ improve water-use efficiency in power production and industry;
♦ development of stress-resistant crops to enhance yield stability under water-shortage conditions
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