Death, drought and devastation: Europe faces ‘huge number’ of climate extremes, report finds

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How was Europe impacted by climate extremes in 2023? ITV News’ Health & Science Correspondent Martin Stew explains the UN and EU report

Heat-related deaths have risen, wildfires the size of London, Paris and Berlin combined raged across Europe, and the UK coastline faced a “beyond extreme” marine heatwave in 2023, a climate report has found.

Europe, including Britain, suffered a “huge number” of climate extremes as the continent was hit by heatwaves, wildfires, droughts and flooding last year, EU and UN scientists have said.

Extreme weather has affected human health and caused billions of pounds in economic losses, and is set to worsen as the world warms, experts said as they launched a report on the European state of the climate in 2023.

The report, from the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) and the UN’s World Meteorological Service (WMO), details the impacts of global warming, including a “beyond extreme” marine heatwave off the UK and Irish coasts, the continent’s largest ever wildfire and exceptional glacier melt.

Heat-related deaths are on the rise in Europe, where it was found 63 lives were lost to storms, 44 to floods and 44 to wildfires in 2023.

Weather and climate-related economic losses totalled an estimated 13.4 billion euros (£11.5 billion), the report said.

Celeste Saulo, WMO secretary-general, said: “The climate crisis is the biggest challenge of our generation. The cost of climate action may seem high but the cost of inaction is much higher.”

Anomalies in the annual surface air temperature for European land.
Credit: Copernicus

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