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Climate change in the UNECE region

The region covered by the UNECE—which spans North America, Europe, Caucasus, Central Asia, and Israel—has a pivotal role in the climate change debate. Not only has this region historically been a large emitter of greenhouse gases that cause global warming —it currently accounts for around half of global greenhouse gas emissions— but it will be particularly affected by a changing climate. On the positive side, the region is also leading global efforts to combat climate change.

Global warming in the UNECE region will have impacts inter alia on access to water resources, agricultural productivity, food security, ecosystems, and human health. 

According to modelling predictions of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, warming in the region is projected to continue at a rate somewhat greater than the global average. Record-breaking heatwaves, more intense rains, floods, droughts, permafrost melting and higher sea levels are some of the expected effects in the UNECE region in the twenty-first century.

Changes in annual precipitation will lead to wet areas getting wetter, while dry areas will become dryer. Summer droughts and heatwaves will be more likely, rendering the entire region and especially the Mediterranean and Central Asia more vulnerable to water stress and desertification. The snow season will become shorter and snow depth will decrease, most markedly in the northern regions of North America. 

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© United Nations Economic Commissions for Europe – 2013