As Extreme Heat Becomes New Normal in Europe, Governments Scramble to Respond

Since 2018, the national heat prevention plan has been extended from June 1 to mid-September, instead of Aug. 31 — a sign, meteorologists said, that heat risks now spread across a longer period.

Experts have applauded France’s efforts.

“France is on alert: Public authorities and Météo France have become much better at coordinating themselves,” said Jean Jouzel, who was vice chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007 when it won the Nobel Prize. “They now see the threats coming, and we now all know that more and more are coming.”

Météo France is the national weather service.

While the government in Britain has acknowledged the growing risk of deaths connected to heat waves, not much headway has been made in mitigating the dangers.

The average number of premature heat-related deaths in Britain, now about 2,000 a year, is expected to triple to more than 7,000 by the 2050s unless action is taken, the Committee on Climate Change, an independent advisory group, has said.

“At present, there are no comprehensive policies in place to adapt existing homes and other buildings to high temperatures, manage urban heat islands, nor safeguard new homes,” the climate change committee wrote in a 2017 report. “The level of risk from overheating across the U.K. is unknown for hospitals, care homes, schools, prisons, and places of work.”

In Germany, authorities have provided few emergency measures and have instead focused on longer-term plans, with lawmakers debating how to put a price tag on carbon emissions.

The country’s agriculture minister has also called for a reforestation program worth 550 million euros, or $611 million, to plant new trees in the country’s aging forests, as part of measures that would help to reduce carbon emissions.