Analysis of excess deaths, the difference between the number of deaths that happened and those expected based on historical trends, reveals ore than 20,000 people died across western Europe in this summer’s heatwaves, in temperatures that would have been virtually impossible without climate change.
In England and Wales, 3,271 excess deaths were recorded between 1 June and 7 September, according to the Office for National Statistics – 6.2% higher than the five-year average.
In France, there were 10,420 excess deaths reported during the summer months.
In Spain, there were 4,655 heat-attributable deaths between June and August.
The German government estimates 4,500 people died in the country during the summer months specifically due to extreme temperatures.
Dr Friederike Otto, a senior lecturer in climate science at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment, Imperial College London, said: “Heatwaves are one of the biggest threats posed by climate change. High temperatures are responsible for thousands of deaths across the world every year, many of which go underreported."
Dr Eunice Lo, a research fellow in climate change and health at the University of Bristol, said: “Heatwaves are becoming more frequent and intense as the globe warms up, so we can expect more and hotter heatwaves in future."