Which European countries are ‘dangerously unprepared’ for hot days?
The climate crisis has been wreaking havoc worldwide and Europe is no exception. Researchers fear buildings in Northern Europe are acting like greenhouses as they aren’t designed to keep people cool during the hot days.
Switzerland, Norway and the UK aren’t ready to keep their citizens cool if the global temperature rise goes beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels.
New research from the University of Oxford has shed light on countries expected to see the most dramatic increase in uncomfortably hot days that require fans, air conditioning, window shutters or other cooling interventions.
Northern Europe will house 8 out of the ten countries with the biggest increase in such days. Researchers also highlighted the vicious cycle involved here.
Without getting buildings optimally prepared for the hot days, there will be a sharp increase in the use of air conditioning systems. These are energy-guzzling entities. If fossil fuels are consumed, then emissions increase – consequently accelerating the impact of global warming.
Which Country Will See The Biggest Rise In ‘Cooling Degree Days’?
The study uses a concept called “cooling degree days”. These are days when some kind of cooling system is needed as the temperature would be above average for the region at the time.
If global warming crosses the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold, Ireland will experience 38% more such uncomfortably hot days – climbing to the top of the list. While Switzerland and the UK will see a 30% climb, Norwegians will see a 28% increase.
These countries will be followed by Finland and Sweden – each with a 28% rise, followed by Austria at 25% and Denmark, Canada and New Zealand at 24%.
These figures, however, are “conservative” estimates, researchers say. They don’t consider extreme events like heatwaves which would only add to the average increases.
Existing Buildings Acting Like Greenhouses
Buildings in places like Northern Europe are “exclusively prepared for the cold seasons,” Dr Jesus Lizana explained.
The co-lead author of the study gave the example of the UK, where buildings currently have no external protection from the sun, no natural ventilation with windows locked and no ceiling fans.
Meanwhile, another co-lead author Dr Nicole Miranda stressed the need for large-scale adaptation to heat resilience. She pointed out the massive amounts of disruption seen in the UK during last year’s record-breaking heatwaves.
Extreme heat can cause dehydration, exhaustion or even death – with the elderly or people with disabilities counted among the most vulnerable populations.