Europe feels the heat

As European cities swelter in the summer heatwave, a new report from WWF, analyzing summer temperature data from 16 EU cities, shows the continent’s capitals warming by sometimes more than 2°C in the last 30 years.

The report, Europe feels the heat – Extreme weather and the power sector, shows London is the city where average maximum summer temperature increased the most, from 20.5°C in the early 1970s to 22.5°C over the last five years, a rise of 2°C. This was followed by Athens and Lisbon (1.9ºC), Warsaw (1.3ºC) and Berlin (1.2ºC).

Meanwhile, the increase in average summer mean temperature was highest in Madrid – up by a staggering 2.2°C, followed by Luxembourg (2ºC), Stockholm (1.5ºC), and Brussels, Rome and Vienna (1.2ºC). In the last five years, average summer temperatures in 13 of the 16 cities looked at were at least 1ºC higher than during the first five years of the 1970s.

WWF’s report highlights that climate change will increase the likelihood of more frequent and intense heatwaves, droughts and rainstorms. It emphasizes the major role of the power sector in fuelling this hike in temperatures. The power sector is responsible for 37 per cent of man-made CO2 emissions globally – more than any other one sector – from burning fossil fuels, such as coal.

Matthew Davis, Director of WWF’s Stop Climate Chaos! Campaign, said:

“Scientists predict that man-made greenhouse gas emissions are doubling the risk of extreme heatwaves, such as the European heatwave of 2003, which resulted in the deaths of more than 40,000 Europeans. This report shows that European cities are heating up and if this disturbing trend continues our cities will become unpleasant places to live with higher temperatures and more chaotic weather.”

Matthew continued: “To avoid the most devastating impacts of climate change, which threaten both people and wildlife, we must drastically reduce global CO2 emissions. And we must start here in the UK with year on year emissions reductions to deliver on our national climate targets.”

In the UK the 1990s were the warmest decade of the last century. By 2080 average annual temperatures across the UK could rise by 2 to 3.5°C and by up to 5°C in London and the South East. The UK Department of Health predicts a 250 per cent increase in heat-related deaths by 2050 .

National weather presenter Sian Lloyd, who has backed WWF’s climate change campaign, said:

“If you thought British summers were unpredictable, climate change has the power to make them unrecognisable with extreme weather events from floods to heatwaves and droughts becoming more frequent.”


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