Climate Impacts: 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/

Civil protection includes measures to protect the population and its livelihoods from disasters and emergencies. Increased extreme weather events lead to a rising number of operations and increase the demands on civil protection organisations.

Table of Contents


Rising number of operations

Heavy rainfall events in particular are of great importance for civil protection. The flooding associated with them is not only a danger to the people who live and work in the affected regions, but also to the supply systems. Power supply and health systems can be severely affected. In addition, there may be problems with settlement drainage and thus flooding. Heavy rainfall also increases the risk of flash floods, mudslides and landslides. Further emergency situations arise from the fact that floods affect transport, the availability of drinking water and people's health.

Other extreme weather events such as storms and thunderstorms, together with increased precipitation, can also cause damage to infrastructure. When transport infrastructure is affected, overhead power lines and signalling systems are damaged, railway tracks are washed out, roads are flooded and transport routes necessary for supplies are blocked, this can lead to more frequent deployments for civil protection organisations.

Furthermore, with rising temperatures and pronounced drought, the risk of fire also increases. Fire operations are thus likely to increase in the future. In addition, hot spells lead to physical and mental stress among the population. More people will be dependent on the care of civil protection organisations, especially in the summer months.

Indicator from the monitoring on the DAS: Person hours required for dealing during weather-related loss events


Increasing demands on civil protection organisations

The organisations themselves are also being put under greater strain by extreme weather events and changing climatic conditions. When the number of operations increases, the emergency forces also put themselves in greater danger, which is extremely stressful for them both physically and psychologically.

Due to more frequent missions, relief organisations also suffer more damage to property. The relief organisations' own exposure thus includes increased dangers to their own personnel, damage to properties and equipment, and failure of their own infrastructure. If, in addition, the general infrastructure such as roads or the electricity and telecommunications network is damaged, this can massively restrict the scope of action of the affected organisation.

Changing temperatures and climatic fluctuations also change the demands on civil protection equipment. If there are longer hot summers and reduced frost days in the future, fewer winter vehicles will be needed, but more cardiovascular rescue and fire-fighting vehicles. Extended heat waves could quickly push rescue and treatment capacities to their limits if there is insufficient restructuring.