Water shortages and water pollution constitute major environmental threats in the EU that pose a threat to agriculture in particular. Several northern EU Member States face water and soil pollution. Southern Member States are more susceptible to drought and soil degradation. Climate change is only expected to intensify these natural threats.
The agricultural sector will be greatly affected by the imminent decrease in water quantity and quality, but is also one of the major contributors to the problem. Modern-day agriculture accounts for around 70% of global water use. In Greece and Cyprus, up to 85% of total water use is dedicated to agriculture.
The extensive and intensive agricultural use of chemical pesticides and fertilisers is arguably the most important cause of water and soil pollution. Furthermore, current unsustainable agricultural practices are considered to be one of the major driving forces of climate change. Greenhouse gases (GHG) are emitted directly through conventional energy consumption and livestock breeding, and indirectly through land-use effects (such as deforestation).