By: Emma Thomas

A scorching heatwave targeted Europe in July 2023. It has claimed one victim while injuring three others, according to Reuters. Reporters Julia Jacobo and Kenton Gewecke discussed on ABC News that humans are the most responsible for the heatwaves due to our constant burning of fossil fuels, raising the earth’s temperature; hence the heatwaves are entirely anthropogenic. Temperatures in Europe have measured to be approximately 2.5 degrees Celsius/ 36.5 degrees Fahrenheit more than usual.

Prolonged temperature rises are expected in multiple countries, including Italy, Spain, France, Germany, and Poland, as announced by the European Space Agency, according to an analysis conducted by World Weather Attribution. The process of Climate Change has made the heatwaves ‘hotter, longer and more frequent.’ These heatwaves have a ten percent chance of occurring any given year in Europe. Research has found that without using fossil fuels from humans and, consequently, human-caused climate change, extreme heat would be limited to only once every 250 years. Furthermore, heat waves of the magnitude of what has been experienced throughout the month of July would have been impossible.

Providing a Solution

Precautions and measures have been implemented to reduce the effect of these heat waves; in fact, authorities have installed the following safety measures after a particularly deadly heatwave that occurred 20 years ago. There are public cooling spaces and warning systems for extreme heat to warn the public. Not only this, but municipalities in certain areas have experimented with methods such as reflective paint on pavements or creating more space for water to cool the ground. However, experts (according to a NY Times article) believe that the authorities need to do more to combat the extreme heat waves advancing in Europe believe that this isn’t enough. Large-scale lifestyle changes need to be made in order to reduce the burning of fossil fuels, personally and industrially.

In Athens, the capital of Greece, city officials are renovating a historic aqueduct that dates to the Roman era to irrigate green corridors in the city. Unfortunately, these initiatives and projects depend on the investment supplied by the public and private sectors as well as the political will of said country’s elected officials.

According to Jonathan Duwyn, head of the Cities Unit at UNEP, “Redesigning urban landscapes with more vegetation and water and implementing passive cooling strategies to improve thermal performance and reduce energy consumption in buildings are key to making cities more resilient to heatwaves.”

The Paris Agreement

The Paris Agreement is a legally binding international climate change treaty adopted by 196 parties at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 21) in Paris. Its goal is to reduce global average temperatures to well below 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts “to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees by the end of the century. “The Paris Agreement works on a five-year cycle of increasingly ambitious climate action — or, ratcheting up — carried out by countries. Since 2020, countries have been submitting their national climate action plans, known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs). Each successive NDC is meant to reflect an increasingly higher degree of ambition compared to the previous version.”