Field of Action Civil Protection

Jackets and helmets of the professional fire brigadeClick to enlarge
Extreme weather events endanger people and their provision with goods and services.
Source: C. Benjamin Nolte/

Impacts of Climate Change

Table of Contents



Civil protection includes measures to protect the population and its living conditions from disasters and emergencies. The following examples show which impacts climate change can have on civil protection and disaster preparedness, for example, more frequent and longer operations of aid organisations.

At altitudes, rising temperatures in spring have the effect that frozen soils moisten increasingly, which can trigger landslides and slope movements. This leads to damage to roads, railway lines, tunnels and other infrastructure.
High water temperatures along with low water reduce the availability of water for power plants and the transport of fuel on the inland waterways. This endangers the security of electricity supply. The energy infrastructure as a fundamental element of the critical infrastructure is at risk.

Also the population is affected by increasing heat. Physical and psychological stress of road users can be the result. If this is the case, the number of accidents increases. The frequency of personal injuries and damage to vehicles, traffic facilities and the traffic infrastructure increases.


Extreme weather events

In addition to rising temperatures, also the more frequent and stronger extreme weather events affect the tasks of civil protection. Especially those events that lead to flooding and floods are crucial for civil protection.

Heavy rainfall entails different problems. The resulting floods do not only endanger the people who live and work in the affected regions. Also the supply systems such as electricity supply and the health care system can be significantly affected. Problems with the urban drainage system and local flooding can be the result. Heavy rain also increases the risk of flash floods, debris flows, and landslides. Other emergency situations result from the fact that floods affect the transportation, the availability of drinking water and human health.

Along with increased precipitation, also other extreme weather events such as storms and thunderstorms can cause damage to the infrastructure. If the transport infrastructure is affected, overhead lines and signalling systems are damaged, tracks are washed away, streets are flooded and roads that are necessary for the supply are blocked, this can lead to more frequent operations of organisations of civil protection.


Own concern of the civil protection organisations

Not only the tasks of civil protection are affected by climate change – even the organisations themselves may be affected by extreme weather events and changing climate conditions.

The climatic changes can, for example, lead to an increased number of operations. Due to more frequent operations, aid organisations often suffer from damage to property. In addition, their staff is increasingly endangered, which is both physically and mentally extremely stressful for the staff. Thus the individually noticeable effects concerning aid organisations include damage to property and equipment, damage to the own infrastructure supply and staff shortages.

The changes in temperature and climatic fluctuations also affect the equipment requirements of civil protection. If there are, for example, longer hot summers and reduced days of frost, less winter vehicles are needed while the number of required rescue workers for heart and circulatory diseases increases. At the same time, prolonged heat waves can stretch rescue and treatment capacities to their limits.

If you are interested in obtaining information about possible adaptation measures in the field of action civil protection, please click here.



Adaptation to Climate Change

You will find information on possible adaptation measures in the field of action civil protection here, soon.

Maintaining the operational capability of civil protection

The impacts of climate change do not only affect the tasks of civil protection. Also the organisations themselves may be affected by the changing climate and therefore have to adapt to the changes. For example, heat stress can affect relief workers so that they may reach their limits. This has to be taken into account when planning operations. Measures such as longer breaks and an increased rotation of relief units can be suitable. In addition, the working environment can be adapted, for example by cooling rooms and vehicles.

If critical infrastructure fails due to extreme weather events, this can also affect the civil protection system as such. Adaptation measures can contribute to ensuring operations in such cases. Not least, this includes having a systematic overview of the own dependencies on critical infrastructure. This can be the basis for a comprehensive assessment of where problems might arise and the areas in which emergency supplies might be required. Measures such as technical solutions or emergency plans can be developed on that basis to ensure the operational capability in the long term.

If you are interested in obtaining information about concrete impacts of climate change in the field of action civil protection, please click here.