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Over 20,000 died in western Europe’s summer heatwaves, figures show | Climate crisis

Figures show more than 20,000 people died across western Europe in heatwaves this summer, at temperatures that would have been virtually impossible without the climate meltdown.

Scientists said an analysis of excess deaths, the difference between the number of deaths that occurred and those expected based on historical trends, reveals the threats posed by global warming caused by climate change.

During summer heat waves temperatures exceeded 40°C (104°F) in London, regions in southwest France reached 42°C, and Seville and Cordoba in Spain hit a record high of 44°C. An analysis from the World Weather Attribution group of scientists found that such high temperatures would have been “virtually impossible” without the climate crisis.

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In England and Wales, 3,271 excess deaths were recorded between June 1 and September 7, according to the Office for National Statistics – 6.2% higher than the five-year average.

The analysis does not specifically estimate heat-related deaths, but the number of deaths was higher on average for days with refractory periods than for days not in the heat period. Covid-19 deaths were excluded.

In France, 10,420 excess deaths were reported during the summer months, according to data released by the government health agency Santé Publique France.

One in four of those deaths, or 2,816, occurred during one of three extreme heat waves to hit the country. Excess deaths were 20% higher in areas where red alerts were issued for extreme temperatures.

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In Spain, the state-supported Carlos III Health Institute estimates there were 4,655 heat-related deaths between June and August.

The Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s state health agency, estimates that 4,500 people died in the country during the summer months precisely because of extreme temperatures.

Dr Frederick Otto, Senior Lecturer in Climate Science at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment, Imperial College London, said: “Heatwaves are one of the biggest threats posed by climate change. Rising temperatures are responsible for thousands of deaths worldwide each year, many of which are not It is reported.

“Despite this overwhelming evidence, there remains little public awareness of the risks that extreme temperatures pose to human health.”

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The summer of 2022 was the hottest on record, according to the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service.

Dr Eunice Law, Research Fellow in Climate Change and Health at the University of Bristol, said: “Heatwaves are becoming more frequent and intense as the globe warms, so we can expect more and hotter heatwaves in the future.

Scientists have linked many past heatwaves to man-made climate change. This means that the likelihood of observed heatwaves occurring or intensifying due to human greenhouse gas emissions is reduced.”

Global warming is caused by the burning of fossil fuels, the destruction of forests, and other human activities. The International Energy Agency advised last year that no new gas, oil or coal development can happen from this year onwards if the world is to limit global warming to 1.5°C.

There is also a need for society to adapt to extreme temperatures, Lu said. “We… need to adapt to the heat for the long term. This includes designing homes, schools and hospitals that are well ventilated and preventing overheating, increasing green spaces and parks in cities, and making heat warnings accessible to all.”

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