Climate crisis: Extreme heat waves hit Europe

Climate action

Long-predicted impacts of climate change are wreaking havoc in Europe. An extreme heatwave is expected to affect millions of people in large parts of west-central Europe. In recent months, Eastern Europeans have been hit by heat waves and droughts; citizens in the UK, France, Germany and Italy suffered from floods and storms.

 Europe is racked by effects of the climate crisis right after atmospheric CO2 levels exceeded 415 particular per million (ppm) for the first time in human history and scientists announced that permafrost is thawing 70 years earlier than predicted.

Regarding the recent heatwaves in Europe, Former IPCC Vice Chair, Jean – Pascal van Ypersele said : “It is clear that time is running out to make the unprecedented changes our society needs to tackle the climate crisis. If decision makers keep delaying real climate action, devastating consequences of climate change will become a norm in Europe and all parts of society will pay the increasing costs of climate inaction.”

Maurice Feschet, French farmer who has long been affected by climate change and took the EU to court over its insufficient 2030 climate target said: “The droughts and heatwaves have already dramatic consequences on Europeans, especially on farmers. In the last 10 years, my family lost almost half of its revenue from lavender farming due to consecutive heatwaves and droughts. The decision makers must urgently tackle the climate crisis by taking decisive and more ambitious climate action.”

Maurice Feschet and other plaintiffs of the People’s Climate Case showcase worsening impacts of climate change and how this affects their human rights. In last week’s European Council, even though the EU failed to ramp up its climate action, 24 Member States,  including the countries of the plaintiffs – Romania, Italy, France, Germany, Portugal, Sweden- supported to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050.

Wendel Trio, Director of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe said: “Europeans are paying the high price of the EU’s lack of climate action by losing their homes, livelihoods and risking their lives. Faced with this climate emergency, EU leaders must urgently get together in an extraordinary Council meeting to agree on urgent additional action by increasing the EU’s 2030 climate target and to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050 at the latest.”

On 23 September 2019, the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres is organising a Climate Summit where all countries and non-state actors are expected to announce their plans to raise climate ambition. In a letter to Council president Donald Tusk, the UN Secretary General has already asked the EU to bring a substantially increased 2030 target to the Climate Summit.  To tackle the climate crisis and avoid an empty- handed participation to the UN Secretary General’s Summit, the EU must agree to reach net zero emissions by 2040 at the latest and reduce emissions by 65% by 2030 in another Council meeting.

Goksen Sahin, CAN Europe Communications Coordinator,, +32 468 45 39 20 

Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe is Europe’s leading NGO coalition fighting dangerous climate change. With over 160 member organisations from 35 European countries, representing over 1.700 NGOs and more than 47 million citizens, CAN Europe promotes sustainable climate, energy and development policies throughout Europe.


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