14 Jun 2023, 13:06
Jessica Bateman

Germany gears up for rising temperatures with federal heatwave plan


Germany is drafting its first-ever nationwide plan to prevent heat-related deaths as heatwaves have become more severe as a result of climate change, health minister Karl Lauterbach said. "We must realise that we are not well positioned to combat heat death in Germany," the SPD politician said as he unveiled the plans in Berlin on Tuesday (13 June), newspaper Tagesspiegel reports. He stressed that Germany will be ever-more affected by climate change-related heatwaves in the future, adding that “if we do nothing, we will lose several thousand lives every year, unnecessarily.” Up until last year, the federal government had not considered a national heat action plan necessary and left it up to the municipalities to develop their own strategies. The new plan will be modelled on that of France, which consists of four different heat-level alerts that activate specific measures.

The federal German Hospital Federation, the Nursing Council (Deutschen Pflegerat) and environmental NGO Klug have all previously lobbied for a national action plan to prevent heat-related deaths, describing these as the greatest climate change-related threat to human health. In 2022 alone, the country registered 4,500 heat-related deaths. During the particularly hot summer of 2018, there were 8,700 heat-related deaths. As a result of climate change, the number of hot days exceeding 30 degrees is increasing in Germany, and there are longer periods of heat.

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