A new study, published in Nature Climate Change, finds that droughts currently drive around €9bn in annual economic losses across the EU and UK – mainly from damage to the agricultural sector. However, the authors warn that, as the climate warms, more frequent and intense droughts are expected across most of Europe – particularly in Meditteranean countries.

If nations adapt to the worsening droughts and warming is limited to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, annual losses from drought would still rise to almost €12bn, the study finds. However, if countries do not adapt, drought losses could hit €24bn under this warming level.

More extreme warming would bring greater losses, the study warns. For example, 4C would drive €33bn of economic losses if adaptation measures are taken – and €65bn if they are not.

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