Climate Change

European cities need better heatwave protection as summers get hotter – report

european cities need better heatwave protection as summers get hotter

Photo: dimitrisvetsikas1969 from Pixabay


June 26, 2024



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June 26, 2024



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European cities are in urgent need for heatwave mitigation and resilience measures as the continent is becoming increasingly hotter, with temperatures rising at twice the global average rate, warns a new report by architecture and engineering consultancy Sweco. The measures, according to Sweco, should include digital innovation, nature-based solutions, green-blue infrastructure, and high-performing buildings.

Recalling that 2023 saw a record number of days with extreme heat, Sweco warns that heat-related mortality in Europe has increased about 30% in the past 20 years. In addition to significant risks to public health, heatwaves also have a negative effect on infrastructure and economic productivity in urban areas, according to the document.

The report, which studied 24 European cities, shows heat-related concerns are often overlooked in climate plans, and that cities in Northern Europe specifically are still designed to protect populations from the cold, not heat.

Sweco’s analysis revealed temperatures are expected to rise for each city from 2020–2100. The estimated increase in heatwave days for Copenhagen is 160%, compared to 150% for Stockholm, 140% for Oslo and 130% for Rotterdam and Brussels. The occurrence is seen doubling in Helsinki.

European cities need to focus more on protecting vulnerable groups

While the firm’s report shows some European cities are taking steps in the right direction, it notes that major gaps still have to be addressed. “European cities’ climate plans need to focus more on protecting vulnerable groups, by improving the cooling of facilities such as preschools, assisted living facilities and care homes,” it says.

Sweco’s key recommendations include increasing vulnerability mapping across cities and designing solutions at the building and neighborhood level to adapt urban spaces. This can be done by applying more nature-based solutions and green-blue infrastructure and updating regulations for new and existing buildings.

Cities need to work together to handle heatwaves effectively

The report further recommends that cities work together to address heatwaves effectively by investing in knowledge, data-driven heat management, and joint planning for handling heatwave crises. Authorities and policymakers must establish more efficient strategies to protect vulnerable populations, safeguard overall public health, and increase climate equality between groups, the consultancy pointed out.

Sweco also recalls that funding is available, given that EUR 680 billion of the European Union’s budget is allocated for climate-relevant measures during the 2021–2027 period.

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