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Projected changes in water-limited crop yield (%) –25 to –15 –15 to –5 –5 to 5 5 to 15 15 to 25 25 to 35 >35 No data Outside coverage

0

500

1000

1500 km

Figure 3.5  Projected changes in water-limited crop yield. Source: EEA 2017a, using data from Ciscar et al. (2011) and Iglesias et al. (2012). This map compares relative changes for the 2050s with the period 1961–1990 for a medium–high climate change scenario. The simulation assumes that the irrigated area remains constant: the results combine the impacts on the key crops wheat, maize and soybean, weighted by their current distribution.

to central Europe. And effects of climate change on agriculture and food systems worldwide will have consequences for availability of food imports into the EU (FAO 2018). If food costs rise, the EU can probably still satisfy its food and nutrition security requirements by importation but this will have increasing consequences for the rest of the world. Climate resilience of crops, for example wheat in central and southern Europe, is currently not receiving the attention it deserves by breeders, seed and wheat traders and farmers (Kahiluoto et al. 2019). The climate change impacts on crop productivity will depend on many factors: high temperatures, variation in temperature, precipitation (and soil moisture), other water availability, O3, direct impacts of CO2 on levels of key nutrients (such as zinc and iron in wheat and legumes (Myers et al. 2016); proteins and micronutrients in rice (Zhu et al. 2018)) and effects mediated by increasing numbers of plant and animal pests and pathogens. While much of the literature characterises impacts of climate change on cereal commodity crops, there are also likely to be negative effects on yields of vegetables and fruit, with further nutritional and health consequences (see, for example, Tuomisto et al. 2017). Europe’s prolonged drought in 2018 has caused the most severe problem to the EU vegetable sector from reduced yields in the 27 

past 40 years according to the European Association of Fruit and Vegetable Producers27, with northern/central European countries (France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, UK, Hungary and Poland) most affected. Metaanalysis of the scientific literature (including studies in Europe, mainly southern Europe) on effects of ambient temperature, CO2, O3, water availability and salinisation concluded that in a ‘business-as-usual’ scenario there will be significant reduction of yields of vegetables and legumes (Scheelbeek et al. 2018). Previous work by EASAC (2017b) has discussed in detail potential impacts of climate change on agricultural productivity and the implications for European food systems and health. Human health effects can be expected arising from potential reductions in nutrient intake but also because of food safety vulnerabilities (food-borne infections and toxins, see preceding section). Adoption of climatestabilisation pathways would reduce the projected number of climate-related deaths in Europe, with the degree of impact depending on stringency (Springmann et al. 2016). There will also be continuing negative effects on fisheries worldwide (see, for example, Whitmee et al. 2015), on assumption of linear changes in environmental parameters, with temperature effects exacerbated if nonlinear. There may be less decline in

www.euractiv.com/section/agriculture-food/news/extreme-drought-causes-eu-vegetables-most-serious-crisis-in-40-years/.

22  |  June 2019  |  Climate change and health

EASAC

The imperative of climate action to protect human health in Europe  

Opportunities for adaptation to reduce the impacts and for mitigation to capitalise on the benefits of decarbonisation. The pace and extent...

The imperative of climate action to protect human health in Europe  

Opportunities for adaptation to reduce the impacts and for mitigation to capitalise on the benefits of decarbonisation. The pace and extent...

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