Extreme heat and drought are a major climate risk with potentially devastating impacts. The frequency and intensity of heatwaves is expected to increase and since 2000 this has been happening. The most recent, in the summer of 2022, when prolonged extreme heat was experienced in areas unaccustomed to it can serve as a warning, that unless we speed up the pace of adapting to heat then the consequences are dire.
We understand some of the impacts of extreme heat – that cities are vulnerable because of Urban Heat Island Effect; that they cause direct and indirect impacts on human health, service provision, nature, economies and physical infrastructure and that age, gender, socio-economic factors and pre-existing medical conditions make some people more vulnerable to heatwaves. Many national and city governments have heat-health-alert systems and policies and guidance in place but there is little empirical work assessing their effectiveness. The periods during a heatwave and the weeks and months following it present an important opportunity to enhance long-term efforts to reduce heat risks.
This project, funded by the Brussels Centre for Urban Studies (BCUS), builds on and extends a UK study on decision-making responses to the 2022 heatwave that aimed to do just that.
The BEBRIT project involves three aims:
- learning (from case studies in Belgium and the UK and existing European and international case studies and examples);
- comparisons (between Belgium and the UK) and;
- exchange (a co-created, collaborative event to share experiences and expertise).