Health-harming heat stress rising in Europe: Report

STORY: Europe is increasingly grappling with scorching heat waves that are beyond what's comfortable for the human body as climate change continues to raise temperatures.

That's according to the EU's Copernicus climate monitoring service and the World Meteorological Organization. which in a report on the region's climate, highlighted last year's extreme conditions.

Notably, a heatwave last July which affected 41% of southern Europe, the largest area of Europe ever recorded to experience extreme heat stress in a single day.

Carlo Buontempo is the Director of the EU's Copernicus Climate Change Service.

"The year, as you know, has globally been extremely unusual, especially when compared with the climate of the last few decades, centuries, or even millennia. So, some of the events of 2023 took the scientific community by surprise because of their intensity, their speed of onset, extent, and duration."

The report highlights that as extreme heat puts at risk outdoor workers, the elderly and people with existing conditions like cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, heat-related deaths in Europe have gone up about 30% in the last two decades.

Findings also show greenhouse gas emissions were the biggest cause of last year's exceptional heat with the El Nino weather pattern also playing a part.

The EU's environment agency last month urged governments to prepare healthcare systems for climate change and pushed for EU regulations to protect outdoor workers from extreme heat.