Heatwaves in Europe, Flooding in Asia — The new normal?

The world is experiencing extreme events and it is no doubt connected to climate change. Right now Europe is enduring an extreme heatwave that experts say is contributing to the tragic wildfires in Greece where 79 people have died according to the latest from state officials. From the Mediterranean to the Arctic Circle unseasonably dry weather and high temperatures are hitting home – the incidence of forest fires alone is 43% above the seasonal average for the region. Sweden is calling for international support to battle several devastating wildfires that threaten to spread out of control as even the northernmost European states experience unprecedented conflagration.

In the United Kingdom and across Europe deadly heatwaves have made temperatures reach 32 degrees Celsius. According to the UK MP’s this may be the new normal for the UK, with summer temperatures regularly reach 38.5C by the 2040s.

Climate scientists including Myles Allen from the University of Oxford says that this heatwave in Europe is undoubtedly due to “human influence on climate” – the impacts of burning fossil fuels are here, now.

A picture taken on July 23, 2018 shows the Parthenon temple on the Acropolis hill in Athens as smoke billows in background during a wildfire in Kineta, near Athens.
Angelos Tzortzinis/AFP/Getty Images
A woman reacts as she tries to find her dog, following a wildfire at the village of Mati, near Athens, Greece July 24, 2018.
Reuters/Costas Baltas
Firefighters, soldiers and local residents carry a hose as a wildfire burns in the town of Rafina, near Athens, Greece, July 23, 2018. Reuters/Costas Baltas

In a statement, Nicolo Wojewoda, 350.org Europe Team Leader, said:

“The current situation in Europe shows that impacts of a warming world are now being felt close to home. We are in a serious, deadly situation and yet our leaders are negligent about their climate commitments. Recent events show that we can no longer delay urgent climate action. If our EU leaders cannot do it, local communities are ready and willing to take on the job. In September, the world will Rise for Climate to demonstrate what climate leadership really means for Europeans. Local climate action will lead the way and we will end the era of fossil fuels.”

In Asia, Vietnam and the Philippines have seen major flooding across its cities after tropical storms hit the countries. In Vietnam, 27 people have been reported dead while floods have caused a standstill in the Philippines’ metro.

A woman wades through a flooded village after heavy rainfall in Ninh Binh province
A woman wades through a flooded village after heavy rainfall caused by tropical storm Son Tinh in Ninh Binh province, Vietnam, July 22, 2018.  REUTERS/Kham

In Japan, the temperatures have reached over 40 degrees Celsius, which has killed 65 people in a week and 22,000 more taken to hospitals. The Japanese government has declared the situation a natural disaster.

About half of the people who have been taken to the hospital for heat-related illnesses this past week are older than 65. Credit: Ko Sasaki for The New York Times
Because of the heat this summer, a consortium of local municipalities has set up stalls at zoos, parks and a racetrack where visitors can borrow parasols at no charge. Credit: Martin Bureau/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images


As global temperatures continue to rise, more climate impacts will be felt. It is clear that it is no longer just the usual “vulnerable countries” that are feeling the impacts of climate change but as well as the European region. There is no time to lose to accelerate the just transition to a 100% renewable energy future. Additionally, countries should prioritise adaptation plans to help their people become less vulnerable and capable of facing climate change impacts.