Armin Laschet, the premier of the North Rhine-Westphalia state in Germany, blamed the extreme weather on global warming during a visit to a hard-hit area.
"We will be faced with such events over and over, and that means we need to speed up climate protection measures...because climate change isn't confined to one state," he said.
At least 80 people have died and many unaccounted for in Germany after some of the worst flooding in decades as record rainfall in western Europe caused rivers to burst their banks, devastating the region. Belgium reported at least 11 dead after the extreme weather.
The Netherlands are also badly affected by flooding as was France, Luxembourg and Switzerland. Residents of Liège, Belgium's third-largest urban area after Brussels and Antwerp, were ordered to evacuate. In the Dutch city of Maastricht, 10,000 people were ordered to evacuate.
Unusually heavy rains from a slow-moving low-pressure system have inundated the countries. The full extent of the damage across the region remains unclear. The deluge in central Europe has raised fears that climate change is making extreme weather even worse than predicted. Climate scientists have long indicated that human emissions would cause more floods, heatwaves, droughts, storms.
“With climate change, we do expect all hydro-meteorological extremes to become more extreme. What we have seen in Germany is broadly consistent with this trend,” said Carlo Buontempo, the director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts.
Dieter Gerten, professor of global change climatology and hydrology at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, explained, “We scientists in recent years have been surprised by some events that occurred earlier and were more frequent and more intense than expected.”
Mojib Latif, a German climatologist based at the Geomar Helmholtz-Center said industrialized society's ability to adapt to weather fluctuations was nearing a breakdown. Historically human beings were used to relatively stable climatic conditions, but weather events were now happening at a speed "that has never occurred before" Latif told the media.