12.3.2 Non-climate trends
The European population is expected to decline by about 8% over the period from 2000 to 2030 (UN, 2004). The relative overall stability of the population of Europe is due to population growth in western Europe alone, mainly from immigration (Sardon, 2004). Presently, CEE and Russia have a surplus of deaths over births, with the balance of migration being positive only in Russia. Fertility rates vary considerably across the continent, from 1.10 children per woman in Ukraine to 1.97 in Ireland. There is a general decline in old-age mortality in most European countries (Janssen et al., 2004), although there has been a reduction in life expectancy in Russia during the 1990s. The low birth rate and increase in duration of life lead to an overall older population. The proportion of the population over 65 years of age in the EU15 is expected to increase from 16% in 2000 to 23% in 2030, which will likely affect vulnerability in recreational (see Section 12.4.9) and health aspects (see Section 12.4.11).
The SRES scenarios (see Chapter 2 Section 2.4.6) for socio-economic development have been adapted to European conditions (Parry, 2000; Holman et al., 2005; Abildtrup et al., 2006). Electricity consumption in the EU25 is projected to continue growing twice as fast as the increase in total energy consumption (EEA, 2006a), primarily due to higher comfort levels and larger dwellings increasing demand for space heating and cooling, which will have consequences for electricity demand during summer (see Section 18.104.22.168).
Assumptions about future European land use and the environmental impact of human activities depend greatly on the development and adoption of new technologies. For the SRES scenarios it has been estimated that increases in crop productivity relative to 2000 could range between 25 and 163% depending on the time slice (2020 to 2080) and scenario (Ewert et al., 2005). These increases were found to be smallest for the B2 and highest for the A1FI scenario. Temporally and spatially explicit future scenarios of European land use have been developed for the four core SRES scenarios (Schröter et al., 2005; Rounsevell et al., 2006). These scenarios show large declines in agricultural land area, resulting primarily from the assumptions about technological development and its effect on crop yield (Rounsevell et al., 2005), although climate change may also play a role (see Section 12.5.7). The expansion of urban area is similar between the scenarios, and forested areas also increase in all scenarios (Schröter et al., 2005). The scenarios showed decreases in European cropland for 2080 of 28 to 47% and decreases in grassland of 6 to 58% (Rounsevell et al., 2005). This decline in agricultural area will mean that land resources will be available for other uses such as biofuel production and nature reserves. Over the shorter term (up to 2030) changes in agricultural land area may be small (van Meijl et al., 2006).