Damages from weather and climate-related events
Published (reviewed and quality assured)
Justification for indicator selection
Economic losses from weather- and climate-related disasters have increased, but with large spatial and interannual variability. Global weather- and climate-related disaster losses reported over the last few decades reflect mainly monetised direct damages to assets, and are unequally distributed. Loss estimates are lower-bound estimates because many impacts, such as loss of human lives, cultural heritage and ecosystems services, are difficult to value and monetise, and thus they are poorly reflected in estimates of losses. Economic, including insured, disaster losses associated with weather, climate and geophysical events are higher in developed countries. Fatality rates and economic losses expressed as a proportion of GDP are higher in developing countries.
Europe is experiencing an increasing number of hydro-meteorological, geophysical and technological disasters that are caused by a combination of changes in its physical, technological and human/social systems. The potential for a hazard to cause a disaster mainly depends on how vulnerable an exposed community is to such hazards. Actions and measures, if well implemented, can reduce the human health and economic impact of a hazardous event. In recent years, policies for disaster risk reduction and management have shifted to a comprehensive, integrated risk approach. The full disaster cycle — prevention, preparedness, response and recovery — should be taken into consideration. Adaptation to climate change and disaster risk management provide a range of complementary approaches for managing the risks of climate extremes and disasters.
- EEA (2011): Mapping the impacts of natural hazards and technological accidents in Europe EEA Technical report No 13/2010. European Environment Agency, Copenhagen
- IPCC (2012) Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation. Special Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (C. B. Field, V. Barros, T. F. Stocker and D. Qin, eds.). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
- Number of natural disasters
- Overall and insured losses from natural disasters
- Number of events
Policy context and targets
In April 2013 the European Commission presented the EU Adaptation Strategy Package (http://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/adaptation/what/documentation_en.htm). This package consists of the EU Strategy on adaptation to climate change /* COM/2013/0216 final */ and a number of supporting documents. One of the objectives of the EU Adaptation Strategy is Better informed decision-making, which should occur through Bridging the knowledge gap and Further developing Climate-ADAPT as the ‘one-stop shop’ for adaptation information in Europe. Further objectives include Promoting action by Member States and Climate-proofing EU action: promoting adaptation in key vulnerable sectors. Many EU Member States have already taken action, such as by adopting national adaptation strategies, and several have also prepared action plans on climate change adaptation.
The European Commission and the European Environment Agency have developed the European Climate Adaptation Platform (Climate-ADAPT, http://climate-adapt.eea.europa.eu/) to share knowledge on observed and projected climate change and its impacts on environmental and social systems and on human health; on relevant research; on EU, national and subnational adaptation strategies and plans; and on adaptation case studies.
No targets have been specified.
Related policy documents
Climate-ADAPT: Mainstreaming adaptation in EU sector policies
Overview of EU sector policies in which mainstreaming of adaptation to climate change is ongoing or explored
Climate-ADAPT: National adaptation strategies
Overview of activities of EEA member countries in preparing, developing and implementing adaptation strategies
DG CLIMA: Adaptation to climate change
Adaptation means anticipating the adverse effects of climate change and taking appropriate action to prevent or minimise the damage they can cause, or taking advantage of opportunities that may arise. It has been shown that well planned, early adaptation action saves money and lives later. This webportal provides information on all adaptation activities of the European Commission.
EU Adaptation Strategy Package
In April 2013 the European Commission adopted an EU strategy on adaptation to climate change which has been welcomed by the EU Member States. The strategy aims to make Europe more climate-resilient. By taking a coherent approach and providing for improved coordination, it will enhance the preparedness and capacity of all governance levels to respond to the impacts of climate change.
Key policy question
What is the trend in the number of natural disasters and in the damage costs caused by them?
Methodology for indicator calculation
Data is taken from the Munich Re NatCatSERVICE. Definition loss events: Events can occur in several countries; events are counted countrywise.
Methodology for gap filling
- NatCatSERVICE (2012) Munich Re NatCatSERVICE. NatCatSERVICE (2012) Munich Re NatCatSERVICE. NATHAN Risk Suite.
EEA data references
- No datasets have been specified here.
External data references
Data sources in latest figures
Data sets uncertainty
Information for Europe can be extracted from two global disaster databases, namely the EM-DAT database maintained by CRED () that places a particular focus on human fatalities and displaced and affected people, and the NatCatSERVICE database maintained by Munich Re that provides data on insured and overall losses. The ‘disaster thresholds’ for an event to be included in these global databases are as follows:
- EM-DAT: 10 or more people killed and/or 100 or more people affected and/or declaration of a state of emergency and/or call for international assistance;
- NatCatSERVICE: Small-scale property damage and/or one fatality. Additionally, Munich Re uses different classes to classify the events.
Over recent years these global databases have been harmonised, although some differences remain. During the past decades both databases have improved their reporting which means that caution is needed in formulating conclusions about trends. In addition, both databases are less suitable for analysing the impacts of smaller events or for analyses at the sub-national level. However, despite these considerations both databases serve as a good starting point for getting an overview of the impact and damage costs of disasters in Europe.
Further information on uncertainties is provided in Section 1.7 of the EEA report on Climate change, impacts, and vulnerability in Europe 2012 (http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/climate-impacts-and-vulnerability-2012/)
No uncertainty has been specified
Short term work
Work specified here requires to be completed within 1 year from now.
Long term work
Work specified here will require more than 1 year (from now) to be completed.
Responsibility and ownership
EEA Contact InfoHans-Martin Füssel
Frequency of updates
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe’s environment.
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