Impacts on society and economy

Climate change and its consequences for natural systems will have an impact on society and the economy.

Water management

Climate-induced changes in the water cycle lead to the following challenges in water management:

  • Conflicts in the use of water (irrigation, cooling)
  • Shortages of water supply in villages
  • Failures in energy production
  • Requirements of water and flood protection
  • New requirements for maritime regulation and management of Alpine lakes
  • Claims of neighbouring countries in international waters


Forestry and hence the wood processing industry and trade are affected by climate change in many ways:

  • New site conditions
  • Increase in the risk of forest fire
  • Spread of harmful organisms
  • Reduction in forest services
  • Wood growth and rising timberlines (long-term development)


Agriculture experiences both positive and negative consequences:

  • Increased productivity and thus increasing income
  • Shortage of water supply
  • Spread of weeds and pests
  • Losses in livestock yield or arable farming due to extreme events


  • Climate change will influence the demand for energy and energy production:
  • Consumption of less energy for heating, but more for cooling
  • Long-term decline in electricity production from hydroelectric power
  • Deterioration in electricity production from nuclear power plants (cooling capacity)
  • Advantages for new renewable energies


Changes in extreme temperatures directly affect human health:

  • Increase in heat stress, and in cardiovascular and breathing difficulties
  • Decrease in work performance
  • Spread of pathogens, pollutants and allergens
  • Increased likelihood of food poisoning
  • Spread of disease vectors such as ticks and tiger mosquitoes


For tourism climate change presents both opportunities and risks:

  • Decrease in guaranteed snow cover in mountain and ski areas
  • Additional protection and reconstruction measures in Alpine regions
  • Increase in the popularity of holiday destinations in the Alps (summer holidays)
  • Increased attractiveness of Swiss cities in the summer

Villages, buildings, roads and infrastructure

Villages, buildings, roads and infrastructure in all of Switzerland are affected by Climate-induced changes in natural hazards (especially floods, landslides, heat stress). Villages with a high degree of soil/ground sealing are especially vulnerable. The shrinkage of soils could also lead to problems in the future.

Last modification 04.09.2018

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