As climate change is heating the planet up, France is putting some serious money on the line to encourage urban vegetation projects and tackle deadly heatwaves.
France has always had to deal with heatwaves during the summer months, but these have become increasingly hard to bear -- and deadly -- over the last decade. In a bid to curb these events and protect its people, the French government has announced that it will be forming a 500-million-euro fund earmarked for urban vegetation projects.
Such green areas will help lessen the impact of heatwaves by providing shaded, open areas for people to use and reducing urban heat island effects, bringing down temperatures in their vicinity.
"The government is going to encourage the development of cool spaces in urban areas with strong support for local authorities as they adapt to the consequences of climate change," government spokeswoman Olivia Gregoire explained in a press release.
Gregoire further called for the people to show "vigilance", france24 adds, especially in the country's south and southwest, where temperatures are already rising and locals expect to see a full-blown heatwave later this week. Peak temperatures of over 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) are expected between Thursday and Saturday, according to estimates from the national weather forecaster Meteo France. They are not expected to drop below 20 degrees Celsius.
Although those regions will experience the worst of it, all of France will be going through a hotter-than-usual period, the forecaster added. This heatwave will arrive unusually early in the year (such temperatures are normally seen during the middle of summer) due to a low-pressure system located between the Azores Islands and Madeira in the Atlantic, which favors the uprising of warm air over Western Europe.
Spain, France's neighbor to the southwest, is also experiencing its hottest pre-summer heatwave in at least 20 years. Temperatures reached 40 °C in the Guadalquivir valley in Seville and the city of Cordoba on Saturday, the national meteorological office AEMET said.
France's elderly, homeless, and people living on their own are especially at risk from the incoming heatwave, Gregoire adds.
Water-use restrictions have already been imposed in around one-third of France, with utility providers also urging farmers, factories, and public service providers to moderate their consumption as much as possible. This is due in part to heatwaves increasing demand, and partly due to an exceptionally warm and dry spring lowering water availability. This May has been the single warmest May ever recorded in France.