Europe’s heatwaves clearly shows dangers of climate change as faced by many Global South countries 

  • Date: 19/07/2023
  • Author: Jo-Ann Ward

Heatwaves ravaging the northern hemisphere and record high temperatures in Europe and the United States clearly illustrate the dangers of the climate crisis that countries in the Global South have been suffering with for years.  

Heatwaves becoming more frequent

This extreme heat is becoming an increasingly frequent phenomenon due to global warming. This is undoubtedly seriously affecting human health, ecosystems, agriculture, energy and water supply.

These consequences have already been felt for decades in some of the most vulnerable countries in the Global South. High temperatures, droughts, cyclones and extreme flooding are causing the loss of livelihoods, the migration of countless people and the increasing the risk of violence against women and girls.  

Real action needed to cut pollution

Karol Balfe, CEO, ActionAid Ireland, said: “Europe is realising too late how climate change is affecting them. We have been warning about the terrible consequences in countries in the Global South that are much more vulnerable the extreme weather and without any means to mitigate, adapt or recover against it.  

“Now, Europe is suffering this more and more. The heatwaves happening now are just one example of how we are going to have to adapt to a new climate reality, and we have the responsibility to support other countries to do the same. 

Ms Balfe added, “Real action to drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions is crucial if we’re to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5°C and avert catastrophic climate change. This means polluting economies must undergo a total transformation within ten years.” 

Current heatwaves result in hottest day ever recorded

The 6 July was the hottest day ever recorded globally, according to data from the US National Centers for Environmental Prediction. The global average temperature reached 17.23ºC surpassing the record of 17.18º C established also during that week, as heatwaves warmed around the world. China reached 52.2°C on the 16 of July. Europe is on red alert this week, it is expected to reach record temperatures above 48°C in some cities. 

Climate change made both the devastating drought in the Horn of Africa and the record April temperatures in the Western Mediterranean at least 100 times more likely, according to the World Meteorological Organisation.  

Climate Change in the Horn of Africa

The Horn of Africa is facing ‘the worst drought in living memory’. Withering crops and dying livestock caused by unpredictable weather patterns, and persistent droughts caused by the escalating impacts of climate change, are leaving communities extremely vulnerable. With no way to make a living or feed their families, individuals travel far and wide in search of food and water. The drought is also creating displacement as people leave their homes in search of better lives.  

Susan Otieno, Executive Director of ActionAid Kenya, said: “The reality is that vulnerable countries are struggling with heat waves, but don´t have the resources available to rich economies to cope with rising temperatures. The consequences are terrible: more than 36 million people across Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia are facing severe hunger every day.”   

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