July 16, 2021

Deadly flooding devastates communities as climate crisis hits central Europe

Europe – Catastrophic flooding in central Europe has killed more than 90 people, over 1000 are still missing. Entire villages are destroyed, bridges have collapsed and hundreds of thousands of people are without electricity.

Germany has been hit hardest with more than 80 dead. In Belgium the Mayor of Liege was forced to call on 200,000 residents to evacuate the city. The severe flooding is also causing major damage to homes and infrastructure in the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Switzerland. The full extent of the losses is yet to be determined and with heavy rainfall expected over the coming days there are fears of more flooding.

This is the latest example in the region of extreme weather caused by climate breakdown and demonstrates the human cost of inaction on climate in the heartland of Europe. This area has experienced record amounts of rainfall over a short period of time at levels not seen in summer for 100 years, following a period of extreme heat and dry weather that together created conditions for a major flood event. If global heating continues to take us beyond the 1.5°C threshold then catastrophic floods like this could become a yearly occurrence for millions of Europeans.

Reactions from Germany and the Netherlands:

“It is heartbreaking to see this flood taking people’s lives, toppling their homes and destroying our cities. This is not normal – this is a climate crisis. Now we are experiencing the impacts here in Europe, as we’ve seen them disrupting communities and ruining livelihoods around the world. From flooding in Indonesia to wildfires in North America. Time after time we have read scientific reports warning of disasters like this, and we have been demanding that governments take action, and yet here we are today. It is time to put an end to climate chaos, it is time to end the era of fossil fuels and end the cause of so much suffering.” – Tonny Nowshin, Germany team lead at 350.org

“Our province Limburg, in the south of the Netherlands where I grew up, is identified as a disaster area. Tens of thousands of people were evacuated from their houses, hospices and elderly homes. This is a national disaster, and the most frightening is that the worst is yet to come. As the climate crisis worsens we know that we should be preparing for more of these kinds of natural disasters. Politicians and financial institutions can no longer stick their heads in the ground. The water, the heat, the fire, the drought: it is going to affect us all – and those in the most vulnerable positions the most. Governments and financial institutions must stop financing the fossil fuel industry.” – Liset Meddens, Director Fossielvrij NL

Media contact

Mark Raven, Europe Communications, [email protected] +447841474125

Note to editors

Examples of scientists linking these events to climate breakdown:

“These kinds of high-energy, sudden summer torrents of rain are exactly what we expect in our rapidly heating climate. The fact that other parts of the Northern Hemisphere are currently suffering record-breaking heat waves and fires should serve as a reminder of just how much more dangerous our weather could become in an ever-warmer world.” – Hannah Cloke professor of hydrology at the University of Reading.

“The rainfall we’ve experienced across Europe over the past few days is extreme weather whose intensity is being strengthened by climate change – and will continue to strengthen further with more warming,” – Friederike Otto from the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford.