Climate change is expected to have significant impacts on natural resources, the world economy and human health. It will lead to increased temperatures, rising sea levels, altered precipitation patterns and increased frequencies of extreme weather events such as floods and droughts. Such impacts will occur even if the world achieves the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) objective of limiting global temperature increase to within two degrees above its pre-industrial level. While the EU is striving to ensure that this global commitment is respected, it also has to prepare for the possibility that the global temperature may well rise by three degrees or more.
The Commission’s strategy for reducing the risks posed by climate change is both to mitigate, by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, and to adapt, by reducing exposure and vulnerability to expected impacts. Eventually, climate change mitigation and adaptation will be essential considerations in growth and development strategies, in particular in achieving the EU’s Europe 2020 targets and the UN’s Millennium Development Goals.
The JRC performs much of its work in the context of international programmes that operate at the interface of science and policy, such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).
The JRC’s main activities cover:
- Assessment of the costs and benefits of various options to reduce climate change hazards either by adaptation or mitigation
- Assessment of climate change impacts under various mitigation scenarios and forecasts.
- Application of Earth observations from space and Earth System modelling to better initialise predictions of climate and climate impacts.
- Development of climate risk management practices that can cope with present and future risks and promote sustainable development.
Euronews Futuris series: Drought alert in Africa
Monitoring of climate and climate change
The JRC carries out precise monitoring of greenhouse gas emissions and their trends, which is crucial to provide effective support to future climate policies.More information:
Risks of present and future weather-driven disasters
Climate change is expected to increase the frequency of extreme weather events such as floods, droughts and heat waves. This section highlights the work carried out by the JRC which supports a better understanding of these hazards and risks.More information:
Adaptation to climate change
The effects of climate change will last many years. Therefore, adaptation measures must be investigated. To be effective, these measures require a strong knowledge base about a range of environmental indicators (such as tree species, habitat suitability, the state of soil and agricultural productivity) and reliable information on floods and droughts.
Climate change mitigation
The JRC helps the European Union attain its objective of limiting global climate change by carrying out modelling activities that assess the technological and economic impacts of various mitigation scenarios. This includes engaging in research activities on energy scenarios, black carbon and tropospheric ozone assessment, carbon capture and storage, deforestation, land use change and agricultural emissions.More information:
Sustainability of climate policies
The JRC measures and analyses the costs, overall environmental effectiveness and sustainability of greenhouse gas emission reduction and climate change policies. This includes evaluating the potential sustainability of biofuels and providing technical and scientific support to the Covenant of Mayors.More information:
Impacts of climate change
The JRC's research on the impacts of climate change looks at economic impacts of our changing climate and includes the Projection of Economic impacts of climate change in Sectors of the European Union based on bottom-up Analysis (PESETA) project.More information:
Communication by the European Commission: "The Paris Protocol - a blueprint for tackling global climate change beyond 2020"
Leaflet: Science for Climate Action