Climate change adaptation in the agriculture sector in Europe

Jacobs, C.; Berglund, M.; Kurnik, Blaz; Dworak, T.; Marras, Serena; Mereu, Valentina; Michetti, Melania


Key messages:
Climate change has an impact on European agriculture in a number of ways. Climate change has already negatively affected the agriculture sector in Europe, and this will continue in the future. Future climate change might also have some positive effects on the sector due to longer growing seasons and more suitable crop conditions. However, the number of climate extreme events negatively affecting agriculture in Europe is projected to increase.
A cascade of impacts from climate change outside Europe may affect the price, quantity and quality of products, and consequently trade patterns, which in turn may affect agricultural income in Europe. Although fodder and food security in the EU will probably not be an issue, the increase in food demand could exert pressure on food prices in the coming decades.
The EU strategy on adaptation to climate change and the common agricultural policy have enabled adaptation actions in the agriculture sector. The new proposed common agricultural policy for 2021-2027 has adaptation as a clear objective, which could lead to EU Member States having to increase their financing of adaptation measures in the sector.
The EU Member States have defined the agriculture sector as a priority in their national adaptation strategies or national adaptation plans. Measures at national or regional levels include awareness raising, practical measures to decrease the impacts and risks of extreme weather events, or risk-sharing strategies, and developing and implementing infrastructure for irrigation and flood protection.
There are opportunities for implementing a wide variety of existing measures at farm level that aim to improve the management of soils and water, which can provide benefits for adaptation, mitigation, the environment and the economy. However, adaptation at the farm level, in many cases, does not take place because of a lack of, among other things, resources for investment, policy initiatives to adapt, institutional capacity and access to adaptation knowledge.