Berlin launches “heat aid” programme as govt gauges extreme weather costs
rbb / Clean Energy Wire
The city of Berlin will launch a “heat aid” programme for homeless people that is aimed at assisting those in need of cooling and hydration during increasingly hot summers across Germany and the rest of Europe, public broadcaster rbb reports. The trial programme is modelled on a similar “cold aid” scheme already in place during winter in the German capital and will provide showers, food, drinks, sunscreen and other means of protection against sweltering heat and high UV radiation. It comes as Germany and much of Europe prepares for the most severe heat wave so far in 2022, with temperatures in Berlin expected to reach 37 degrees Celsius this week. The project initially will accommodate up to 30 people in the Schöneberg district and will run until the end of September, after which the city will prepare a scheme to cover an estimated 6,500 homeless people. “Progressive climate change is making heat waves more common. These represent an additional threat to public health. Homeless people are among the vulnerable groups,” the city’s government said. Community worker association Karuna said high temperatures are becoming a major risk for homeless people in the city, with emergency calls for aid and hydration assistance spiking markedly when temperatures hit the 35°C threshold.
Ahead of the expected heat wave, the country’s national meteorological service DWD launched a new nationwide scheme for extreme heat warnings. The data service provides warnings looking five days ahead and is supposed to help public health and care institutions to better prepare vulnerable groups for high temperatures.
The heightened alert and response measures for extreme heat came as the country’s climate and energy ministry (BMWK) published a study on extreme weather damages in Germany, which amounted to more than 80 billion euros in 2021. Hot and dry summers and individual disasters like last year’s floods in western Germany and neighbouring countries could be clearly linked to climate change, the ministry said. Economic costs accrued both from direct damages to crops, forests and infrastructure and indirect effects, such as lower labour productivity, it added.