European cities will increasingly experience pressure on power and water supplies due to regular heatwaves, warns Verisk Maplecroft

In less than 30 years climate change will force us to re-evaluate how we live and work in our urban environments. If emissions remain unchecked, temperatures and humidity will quickly rise, leaving many major cities facing more frequent and severe heatwaves. 

It is going to be an uncomfortable journey and one operators, investors, and city officials need to start preparing for now, according to Verisk Maplecroft.

By 2050, extreme heat stress is projected to impact 350 million people in the world’s megacities. The burden is likely to be significant: healthcare facilities will become stressed, transport and power grids will face disruption, and GDP will reduce as productivity and outputs fall.

The impact on major cities in Europe will be extreme, predicts Maplecroft.

Tracking two journeys south using its Current and Future Heat Stress indices, it shows how major metropolitan areas will transform under future heat stress by revealing the cities that they will most resemble by 2050.


4 degrees of separation

By 2050, London will feel as hot as Milan. As heatwaves like London’s 2019 and 2020 events become the summer norm by 2050, the city could see losses upwards of $2.8 billion in productivity – from increased labour inefficiency, illness and workplace injuries and delays due to impacts on transport – despite its workforce being largely staffed by people in climate-controlled offices.

Milan will be mostly buffered from the severest impacts of heat stress due to its economic focus on financials and services, but Rome’s transition will be harsher as it moves into a climate more like that of Agadir, Morocco.

Italy’s capital is no stranger to the effects of heat stress, but this will be amplified by 2050 when it will experience an additional 41 heat stress days, which occur when temperature and humidity exceed 25˚C on a measure known as the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT).

The 2017 heatwave saw the Italian capital, renowned for its aqueducts and water fountains, threatening to ration water for over a million residents.

Pressures on power and water supplies, excess mortalities and labour capacity losses are already shared across Southern European cities like Lisbon, Bologna and Athens.

But they will, on average, transition into feeling more like Middle Eastern and North African cities over 400 miles to their south, where fatalities related to heat stress are most concentrated.