The summer of 2022 was the hottest recorded on the Old Continent, causing numerous temperature records and dramatic fires. But at least 15,000 deaths in Europe are also directly linked to the severe heat waves that have affected the continent, according to a still incomplete estimate published Monday by the World Health Organization (WHO) on the occasion of the COP27 on the climate.
“Based on national data already published, it is estimated that 15,000 people died specifically from heat in 2022,” said WHO European branch director Hans Kluge in a statement on Monday. This toll, which includes 4,500 deaths in Germany, nearly 4,000 in Spain, more than 3,200 in the United Kingdom and a thousand in Portugal, “is expected to increase, as several countries have reported excess heat-related deaths”, he specifies.
The WHO thus underlines that the French Institute of Statistics, Insee, recorded an excess mortality of 11,000 people during the summer of 2022 compared to the summer of 2019 preceding the Covid-19 pandemic, “probably” explained by the very hot weather recorded in June and July in particular.
“Strong action can prevent more deaths”
According to WHO data, extreme temperatures have been responsible for 148,000 deaths in Europe over the past fifty years. With 15,000 deaths and probably more in a single year, 2022 alone would represent more than 10% of this total.
“Climate change is already killing us, but strong action today can prevent more deaths,” said the UN health organization, as COP27 is being held in Egypt. According to a UN report published last week, the European continent is the fastest warming continent, recording a rise in temperatures more than twice the global average over the past thirty years.