Social protection for extreme temperatures: Experiences from the UK, USA and France - Briefing Note

Around the world, climate change is impacting communities’ livelihoods and well-being. Extreme weather events have killed more than 1.3 million people in 1998–2017, with about 4.4 billion people affected (by injury, homelessness or the need for emergency services, etc.) and caused economic losses of 2.9 billion US dollars (Wallemacq and House 2018). Over the last decade, extreme weather events have also displaced 20 million people annually (Wood 2019). Weather events causing temperature extremes, like heat- and cold waves, often go unnoticed as they are ‘silent.’ In 1998–2017, more than 166,000 deaths occurred due to heatwaves. Of these, 70,000 deaths occurred during the 2003 heatwave in Europe, with France alone accounting for nearly 15,000 deaths (World Health Organization n.d.). The so-called “Beast from the East” – a nickname for the 2018 cold wave that affected Great Britain and Ireland – also caused thousands of people to lose their lives (Chenel and Moynihan 2020).