31 Jul 2023, 13:33
Carolina Kyllmann

Germany aims to halve number of excess deaths due to heat in 2023 with new protection plan

Clean Energy Wire

German health minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) aims to halve the number of excess deaths due to heat this year compared to 2022 with a nationwide heat protection plan. Lauterbach, who presented the plan on 28 July, said that it should help reduce the number of excess heat deaths to below 4,000 this year already. In 2022, the warmest year on record in Germany (tied with 2018), over 8,000 people died of heat-related causes. “The increasing heatwaves in Germany require immediate action,” the plan – the first of its kind in the country – reads. The focus initially lies on communication and awareness-raising, especially within nursing facilities and for people most at risk. To this aim, the health ministry put together a poster with tips on how to act in hot weather. It is also closely cooperating with the meteorological service DWD, devising a system to send out early warnings ahead of heatwaves, and with public broadcasters, who can then distribute the information. A new website was published to provide municipalities with advice for effective heat protection measures.

With two rounds of stakeholder talks in autumn and next spring, the federal health ministry aims to introduce structural changes to better prepare Germany against heat in the summer of 2024 and beyond. Around 1,500 people already passed away from heat-related causes between mid-April and mid-July, according to a report by the public health institute RKI. A number of federal states, including Brandenburg, Rhineland-Palatinate, Bavaria and Saxony-Anhalt, have recently announced their own climate action or heat protection plans based on their local circumstances.

Climate change leads to an increasing number of extremely warm days and higher heat peaks in Germany and many other European countries. Recent extreme weather events, such as heatwaves, droughts and floods, have underlined the urgent need to prepare the continent for the worsening effects of climate change.

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