Since the beginning of weather data collection in Germany, 9 out of 10 of the hottest years have occurred within the last two decades. The German Weather Service projects the number of “heat days” (at or above 30°C) and the number of “tropical nights” (at or above 20°C) to increase along with gradually rising annual average temperatures.
In response, the German federal government published recommendations created by the Working Group for Health-based Adaptation to the Impacts of Climate Change for the creation of “Heat Action Plans” in 2017 to help protect human health. The recommendations are aimed at health offices from local to state levels and suggest cooperation with relevant stakeholders including hospital associations, doctor networks, emergency services, nursing homes, schools and day cares. A range of communication measures to infrastructural changes that lead to improved microclimates are suggested as adaptation measures.
Thirteen of sixteen states have included heat stress in their CCA plans. Bavaria is the focus of our research in Germany and has a state strategy for adapting to the impacts of climate change (BayKLAS). The strategy identifies heat stress as a negative impacts on humans, nature, and agriculture. In response it includes measures within urban and landscape planning to maintain or improve air circulation within cities and green areas for the improvement of urban microclimates as well as the recommendation to develop suggestions for the health sector. Bavaria’s state health minister emphasises the importance of decentralised action to prepare for heat waves and prevent heat stress. Thus far heat stress prevention recommendations including the development of heat advisory warning systems and increased awareness-raising among health workers have been developed by the state environmental ministry. A joint research project of the ministries of health and environment is currently investigating impacts of climate change on health and potential measures for individual citizens.