We already know that the climate crisis is making heatwaves longer, more frequent and more intense. We all experienced that first hand last summer. In fact the summer temperature in Europe in 2022 was the highest on record.
Less well known is the impact of this heat on our health. In the most extreme cases, heat can be fatal: in summer 2022, Spain recorded over 4,600 deaths attributable to temperatures exceeding 40°C. And we know that the situation will likely get worse in the future before it gets better, with 90,000 Europeans at risk of dying from heat every year in the next decades if we don’t do more to cut greenhouse gas emissions globally.
The problem is most urgent in cities, as buildings and roads absorb and retain heat, and there’s often reduced vegetation and fewer bodies of water. This means that urban areas tend to be significantly warmer compared to neighbouring rural areas a phenomenon called “urban heat island”. With around 75% of Europeans living in cities, the potential health threat is huge.
We need to act now both to prepare better for heatwaves and protect ourselves from their severe consequences. Here are a few examples of how the EU is helping Europeans to do just that.
Learn more on the official EU website
Source: DG CLIMA