Germany records its hottest June temperature

Germany recorded its hottest ever June temperature on Wednesday, breaking a record that lasted over 70 years.

Germany records its hottest June temperature
Swimmers jump into the Heidebad in Halle, Saxony-Anhalt on Wednesday. Photo: DPA

Germany broke a new heat record for June on Wednesday afternoon, with temperatures reaching 38.6 degrees at a weather station in Coschen in Brandenburg.

The previous highest temperature for this month was 38.5 degrees in 1947, measured at a weather station in Bühlertal in Baden-Württemberg. 

Germany’s all-time heat record, however, remains unbroken. This was 40.3 degrees in the Bavarian town of Kitzingen. 

Meteorologists blamed a blast of hot air from northern Africa for the current heatwave early in the European summer, which could send thermometers above 40 degrees in France, Spain and Greece on Thursday and Friday.

The high temperatures have led to unusual behaviour around the Bundesrepublik. A man was stopped by police in Brandenburg for riding naked on his moped, after which he replied “Is it hot or what?”

In Munich, there was a topless row as burly security guards ordered a group of women sunbathing half-naked to cover up. 

The heat also led to safety and environmental concerns. On the north coast, sweltering temperatures bent railway tracks out of shape on a popular tourist route near Rostock on the Baltic Sea and an official said a track-laying company were trying to fix the damage.

In the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt, the heat caused high levels of ozone pollution, which the state environmental agency said could have detrimental effects for those suffering from allergies and asthma. 

The western city of Dortmund called on its citizens to help water trees in front of their homes.

“The young trees in the street area are suffering from extraordinary drought stress in the current heat,” they wrote on their website.

With reporting by AFP.

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‘No longer pushing the burden into future’: German govt approves more ambitious climate targets

The German government on Wednesday approved a new law setting more ambitious targets to reduce CO2 emissions, after the country's top court declared a flagship climate law "insufficient".

'No longer pushing the burden into future': German govt approves more ambitious climate targets
German environment minister Svenja Schulze holding up the country's new emissions targets at a press conference on Wednesday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

“We are setting the framework for the next years and decades,” said Environment Minister Svenja Schulze, adding that the reform was a “fair offer to the younger generations” as it “no longer pushes the burden into the future”.

In a sensational ruling last month, Germany’s Constitutional Court said the current climate protection law threatened to “irreversibly offload major emission reduction burdens” onto the period after 2030, thereby “violating the freedoms” of future generations.

READ ALSO: ‘Exclamation mark for climate protection’: How Germany is reacting to top court’s landmark ruling

Already under electoral pressure from the Green Party, which currently leads opinion polls ahead of September’s general election, the ruling left-right coalition has since moved quickly to tighten the law.

Under the new targets approved by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet on Wednesday, the government expects to slash emissions by 65 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, going further than the current 55 percent reduction target

The cut will reach 88 percent by 2040, with the goal of bringing Germany to carbon neutrality by 2045, five years earlier than previously expected. Schulze added that Germany would also now aim to record negative emissions from 2050 onwards, by absorbing more greenhouse gases than it produced.

“We are talking about nothing less than a doubling of the tempo when it comes to climate protection,” she said.

“That is a huge task, but I am optimistic,” she said, adding that the government planned to see the law through parliament before September’s elections.

Yet critics argued that even the more stringent targets did not go far enough.

Speaking to public broadcaster ARD, Green Party leader and would-be Merkel successor Annalena Baerbock urged the government to “not just name targets, but also measures with which we can reach these targets”.

In a stunt in the early hours of Wednesday morning, Greenpeace Germany projected an image onto the wall of Merkel’s office which showed the words “right to a future, climate protection now!” against a background of flames.

The group has called for further measures such as an exit from coal by 2030 and a ban on combustion engines from 2025.

Germany currently aims to phase out coal power by 2038 at the latest, though Schulze claimed Wednesday that this date could be brought forward with a sufficient expansion of renewable energies.