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Climate change (II/III): the coolest summer of the rest of our lives

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By Diego Balverde

· 5 min read

This is part two of a two-part series on the effects of climate change. You can find part one here.

On October 27, 2021, I arrived in Rome with the threat of climate change looming at the top of the agenda (it only took 12 participations in G20 and 9 consecutive COPs).

But it set the precedent for the fatigue of people, institutions and governments most unprotected by climate change. In the days leading up to COP, we gained access to data collected by the UN, in a huge effort to declassify information, and it was there that everything turned dark.

The results of the multidisciplinary analysis yielded alarming figures — extremely alarming. 

I remember experts crying as they saw the figures on the screen, figures that reflected the nearly out-of-control acceleration of global warming. I saw people who were dismayed and crying inconsolably, who had come with the intention of solving something that was beyond all of us.

If humanity continued in the same fashion, the predicted records of the 2035 averages are going to be doubled, or more, by that date.

We are losing this war against ourselves to curb our emissions.

Turning point in history

From that moment on, nothing was the same for the people present and a new era began: the era of solutions.

By 2022, a year characterized by the end of COVID, positive climate action was rising but the need for consumption was also sweeping in. After COVID, the population wanted to go out due to the extended period of confinement. This made it very difficult to define climate goals, for which something was still missing — acceptance!

Accepting change

2022 was also a year of coming clean about humanity’s accumulated mistakes, to be able to analyze solutions. For this, measures and clean processes were applied, discarding solutions that are polluting. Positive media and voices for solutions at scale were elevated.

The collaborative revolution of media like LinkedIn, illuminem, and the Clean Energy Revolution made it possible to hear from experts showcasing their research and results. This gave us the possibility to co-create solutions.

The present shows us

Summers in the Northern Hemisphere have become scorching hot. Extreme temperatures have persisted for several consecutive days in Europe, the United States and Asia without respite, showing us one of the harshest faces of climate change.

In the past season, high temperatures caused more than 60,000 deaths in Europe alone.

The prognosis cannot be good if summer is just beginning this year and the heat wave is already hitting harshly, causing several countries to exceed 38 degrees. Worse still, we are only in the early stages of this heat wave. 

In North Africa, the temperatures have been even worse. It is very likely that in these days historic maximums will be exceeded: the European record of 48.8ºC reached in Sicily in August 2021 and the world record of 56.7ºC in Death Valley, California, in July 1913.

Consequences of El Niño

The recently declared El Niño phenomenon will only amplify the incidence and intensity of extreme heat waves. For example, Rome recorded a record maximum temperature for the city of 41.8 degrees Celsius. This mark is one degree Celsius more than the previous highest temperature, set last year in June.

At the same time, throughout Italy, 16 cities are on red alert, with highs of up to 36 and 37ºC. In this context, the Minister of Health stated that the extreme heat throughout Italy is the main cause of the 20% increase in the number of patients going to hospital emergency rooms.

In France, nine southern areas recorded new maximum temperatures, according to the French meteorological agency Météo France. 

In Spain, Aemet issued orange warnings for high temperatures (38 to 42º C) in large areas of the Iberian Peninsula and the Balearic Islands on Monday, in addition to a red warning (extreme danger) in areas of Andalusia and on Tuesday in Aragon, Catalonia and Majorca (42 to 44º C).

Fires are also part of the order of the day. Just to mention two examples, there were outbreaks on the Canary Island La Palma and on the outskirts of Athens, in Greece.

The heat traps the entire Northern hemisphere

The high-temperature alert continues not only in Europe but also in the United States and Asia. Health authorities stress the need to stay well hydrated and protect yourself from the sun.

That's why the United States is bracing for an "extremely dangerous" heat wave from California to Texas.

In Death Valley, California, the thermometer has climbed to 51°C and up to 54° are expected.

Canada experiences these high temperatures with the aggravation of coming from months of little rainfall, which led to the devastating forest fires that have already made headlines.

The sad reality is that so far in 2023, burned land reached its all-time high of 10 million hectares last week.

In China, temperatures are anticipated to reach maximums of up to 45 degrees in the Xinjiang region (northeast), partly desert, and 39ºC in the southern region of Guangxi.

In the midst of this panorama, the United Nations Organization (UN) issued a statement in which it warned that the world must prepare for more intense heat waves.


At this critical juncture, there is an urgent need for multipurpose solutions. Medium and long-term plans are also needed to take care of emissions control and savings. It seems that attacking the many threats we face simultaneously and directly is the way to go, instead of planting trees today that do not reduce yesterday's emissions.

For this reason, direct investments are one tool for generating volume in existing clean energies that allow carbon markets to have green portfolios.

illuminem Voices is a democratic space presenting the thoughts and opinions of leading Sustainability & Energy writers, their opinions do not necessarily represent those of illuminem.

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About the author

Dr. Diego Balverde is an Economist at the European Central Bank and has extensive experience in climate finance. He is currently also an Advisory Member of the Council of Foreign Trade at The World Bank. Diego is very active on the international sustainability stage having attended COP27 as a Circular economy for Climate Change specialist and will also be attending the G20 Conference in India as part of the Energy, Sustainability and Climate Task Force. Diego holds a PhD in Foreign trade from Chapman University and an MBA degree from Cambridge Judge Business School.

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