Climate change

Climate Change in the European Alps: Adapting Winter Tourism and Natural Hazards Management


ISBN: 9789264031692
Published: 18 January 2007
Edited by Shardul Agrawala

Climate change poses a serious challenge to social and economic development in all countries. While international commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are essential, adaptation to the impacts of climate change must also be integrated into sectoral and economic policies worldwide. This report examines the implications of climate change for the economies in the European Alps. It focuses on adaptation measures to address two key vulnerabilities: increasing losses in winter tourism due to reduced snow cover, and increased exposure of settlements and infrastructure to natural hazards.

Climate Change in the European Alps: Adapting Winter Tourism and Natural Hazards Management is the product of a two year study by the OECD Environment Directorate. The report presents the first systematic cross-country analysis of snow-reliability of Alpine ski areas under climate change for five countries in the region: FranceSwitzerlandAustriaItaly and Germany.

It examines the implications of climate change for a range of natural hazards prevalent in the Alps, with a particular focus on frameworks and financial mechanisms to manage natural hazards in three countries: France, Switzerland and Austria. Technological and behavioural adaptation measures, together with institutional structures and risk transfer mechanisms, are also reviewed.

The implications of this assessment extend beyond the European Alps to other mountain systems which may face similar climate and contextual challenges, for example in North America, Australia and New Zealand. The case of the European Alps, with its high adaptive capacity, provides examples of good practices which are valuable not only for other developed country contexts, but for developing countries as well.

OECD News Release


Table of Contents

  • Executive Summary - Résumé - Zusammenfassung
  • Chapter 1: The European Alps: location, economy and climate
  • Chapter 2: Climate change impacts and adaptation in winter tourism
  • Chapter 3: Climate change adaptation and natural hazards management


The report in the news

  • Winter sports face a double threat, from climate and demographic change, 25 January 2018, The Economist
  • Forum d'Avoriaz - 20/01/2007 - Dans l'édition régionale de France 3 (Rhône Alpes Auvergne), Shardul Agrawala, de la Direction de l'Environnement de l'OCDE, a exposé les chiffres délivrés par l’organisation, ce qui n’a pas manqué d’inquiéter les écologistes et les professionnels des stations de montagne car chaque année la neige s’y fait de plus rare (Copyright:
  • Snow Cannons against the Apocalypse - Der Spiegel - 03/01/2007 - According to a study published at the start of this winter's ski season by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), global warming could jeopardize as many as two-thirds of all ski areas in the Alps.
  • Global Warming Poses Threat to Ski Resorts in the Alps - New York Times - 15/12/2006 - KITZBÜHEL, Austria - The O.E.C.D. study may focus minds. In Austria today, it says, 83 percent of ski resorts are “snow-reliable,” meaning they have enough snow for 100 days a season. If temperatures increased one degree Celsius, only 67 percent would have enough; if they rose two degrees, only half would.
  • Europe's Endangered Slopes - Carol Matlack, BusinessWeek - 15/12/2006 - The snow is all but a no-show so far this season at many famed ski resorts. Global warming is forcing them to think more about golf and hiking.
  • OECD warns on Alpine ski future - BBC News - 14/12/2006 - The OECD said sufficient snow may become a thing of the past on lower-lying slopes.
  • OECD: Global warming could spell ruin for Alps - Edmund Conway, Daily Telegraph - 14/12/2006 - ...Shardul Agrawala of the OECD's environment directorate said: "The Alps accounts for a significant share of global tourism. There will be winners and losers from climate change. The resorts which lie at lower altitudes may lose out as their snow reliability falls, and they lose visitors, or have to invest more in snow-making. Then, the relative attractiveness of high altitude resorts increases."
  • Ski resorts face uncertain future - Angelique Chrisafis, The Guardian - 14/12/2006 - A report by the OECD yesterday heaped more bad news on Alpine ski resorts, which are already struggling against the warmest weather in 1,300 years, according to Austrian climatologists, with flowers still blooming on some slopes and world ski tournaments being cancelled through lack of snow.
  • Climate change threatens ski resorts in Europe - Swissinfo - 13/12/2006 - An international report warns almost half of Switzerland's ski regions are facing a lack of snow as a result of global warming.
  • Global warming threatens German ski resorts (OECD zu Klimawandel) - 13 December 2006 - The OECD sees a difficult future for most ski resorts in Germany. In a new OECD report warns that climate change endangers winter tourism. Report includes interview with Shardul Agrawala, OECD's Environment Directorate (Copyright:
  • European ski resorts fear melting profits - 13 December 2006 - A new OECD report says a critical lack of snow in Europe might be only the tip of the iceberg for its thawing slopes. Sam Eaton reports. Listen to interview with Shardul Agrawala, OECD's Environment Directorate (Copyright:


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