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How The Local’s countries are impacted as July records Earth’s hottest month EVER

July 2021 marks the month with the highest temperatures since records began 142 years ago, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Here's how the rising temperatures are affecting countries covered by The Local.

How The Local's countries are impacted as July records Earth's hottest month EVER

The combined land and ocean-surface temperature around the world was 0.93 of a degree C (1.67F) above the 20th century average of 15.8 C (60.4F), new global data from NOAA revealed.

It was also 0.01 of a degree C (0.02F) higher than the previous record set in July 2016, which was repeated in 2019 and 2020.

“In this case, first place is the worst place to be,” said NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad, Ph.D.

“July is typically the world’s warmest month of the year, but July 2021 outdid itself as the hottest July and month ever recorded. This new record adds to the disturbing and disruptive path that climate change has set for the globe,” he added.

The year-to-date (January-July) global surface temperature tied as the sixth highest on record. According to NOAA’s temperature rankings outlook, it is very likely that the year 2021 will rank among the 10 warmest years on record.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the land-surface only temperature was the highest ever documented for July, at an unprecedented 1.54 degrees C (2.77 degrees F) above the 20th century average temperature. This beat the previous record set in 2012.

A woman cools off in Rome. (Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP)

Europe reported its second ever hottest July on record, with several parts of southern Europe reaching temperatures of above 40 degrees C.

Sicily in Italy may have registered the hottest temperature ever in Europe, with a scorching 48.8 degrees C reported near Syracuse this week – although this still needs to be verified.

A map of the world plotted with some of the most significant climate events that occurred during July 2021. Source: NOAA.

The levels of extreme heat reported by NOAA echoes the impact of a global environment in flux, revealed in a key study released this week by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Scientists from across the globe delivered the most up-to-date assessment of the ways in which the climate is changing,” said Spinrad.

“It is a sobering IPCC report that finds that human influence is, unequivocally, causing climate change, and it confirms the impacts are widespread and rapidly intensifying.”

The report found that the impacts of climate change that scientists have been warning about for years are already happening. 

Countries covered by The Local have noted how climate change has affected residents and nature on localised levels.

Norway reported that the county can expect less snow, more heatwaves and more floods.

 Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Several Norwegian researchers contributed to the report. Bjørn Hallvard Samset is one of those researchers and said that the biggest effects in Norway would be felt in southern Norway and the Arctic.

If the temperature were to rise by two degrees, then permafrost around the globe will begin to thaw, and glaciers will melt, according to the researchers. 

This would have a dramatic impact on Norway, according to one of the Norwegian researchers and contributors the report, Jana Sillmann.

“In Norway and the Arctic, we will most likely experience that less snow and more flooding will affect energy production, infrastructure and winter tourism,” she said.

Meanwhile in Italy, scientists have observed an increase in droughts and project an increase in aridity and fire weather conditions.

READ ALSO: Six shocking statistics about the climate crisis in Italy

Coastal areas are expected to witness continued sea-level rises throughout the 21st century, which could lead to more frequent and severe flooding and coastal erosion – cities such as Venice, which is already under environmental pressure, are particularly under threat.

If no additional climate policies are adopted, Venice could experience an increase in sea levels by as much as 0.87 metres by the end of the century.

The sun setting over the Austrian alps. Climate change is likely to have a serious impact on Austria’s glaciers. Joël SAGET / AFP

Austria has discovered that future projections are not good, with researchers anticipating mountainous regions to be particularly impacted by rising temperatures in the coming decades.

The IPCC warned that Austria could warm up by as much as five degrees by 2100 if nothing is done to stop global carbon emissions.

READ ALSO: ‘Cool streets’ and pedestrian zones: How Vienna is preparing for climate change and heatwaves

Glacier researcher, Sarah Braumann, also recently told ORF that Austria’s Ochsentaler Glacier, the largest in the Vorarlberg state in western Austria, could be gone in five decades if the ice continues to recede.

For a country that heavily depends on winter tourism, this is sobering news.

Over in France, the country has experienced extreme heat, wildfires and hailstorms this summer.

Spain braces for wildfires as heatwave approaches. Photo: JORGE GUERRERO / AFP

The Local spoke to French climatologist Françoise Vimeux about the likely effects of climate change in future years, who told us that there is likely to be less rain in the summer but more “extreme rains over a very specific period and very locally, because our atmosphere will be loaded with water”.

READ ALSO French winemakers count cost of ‘worst freeze in decades’

Localised flooding, extreme heat and storms are expected in France over the decades to come.

Spain is also witnessing extreme weather events as wildfires sweep across the country, with temperatures of upwards of 40 degrees C recorded across the Iberian peninsula.

The country’s environment ministry revealed in May that Spain experienced the highest temperatures in 2020 since records began.

READ ALSO: What to do and what to avoid if you witness a forest fire in Spain

Spain’s average temperatures hit 14.8 degrees celsius last year. That’s around 1.7 degrees hotter than the average in pre-industrial times, according to the ministry’s report.

Climate change is also making its effects known in Sweden, where its forests are increasingly under pressure and fewer old trees are being observed.

Like Spain, Sweden also recorded its hottest year in 2020, hitting the highest temperatures since records began 160 years before.

The mountainous regions of Switzerland are also suffering the effects of climate change. Rising temperatures have dramatically altered the Swiss Alp landscape at a quicker pace than expected, as melting glaciers have created more than 1,000 new lakes across in the mountains.

 Photo by Marco Bertorello / AFP

Glaciers in the Swiss Alps are in steady decline, losing a full two percent of their volume last year alone, according to an annual study published by the Swiss Academies of Science.

And even if the world were to fully implement the 2015 Paris Agreement – which calls for capping global warming at at least two degrees Celsius – two-thirds of the Alpine glaciers will likely be lost, according to a 2019 study by the ETH technical university in Zurich.

Referring to the IPCC study, Germany’s environmental minister said time is running out to rescue Earth.

Germany has felt the deadly impact of more extreme weather events, as the nation experienced severe flooding that claimed the lives of more than 180 people and devastated communities.


Meanwhile in Denmark, it’s expected the environment will get much wetter, as both Northern Europe and Greenland are expected to face some of the largest increases in heavy precipitation events if the global mean temperature rises from 1.5 degrees C to 2 degrees C.

Martin Olesen, a climate researcher at the Danish Meteorological Institute, told DR that Denmark could expect between 60 to 80 percent more cloud bursts by 2100. In other words, that’s more than 15mm of rain in an hour. 

At the other end of the scale, Denmark can also expect to see more heatwaves by the end of the century too, even possibly attracting more tourism at the expense of southern Europe.

READ ALSO: Denmark must lead by example to prevent grim future in IPCC report: climate minister

Amid the alarming environmental threats unfolding and grim predictions for the future, human actions can still determine the Earth’s climate in the future for the better, according to the IPCC’s report.

“This report is a reality check,” said IPCC co-chair Valérie Masson-Delmotte.

But it means there is now a much clearer picture of the past, present and future climate, which she stated is “essential for understanding where we are headed, what can be done, and how we can prepare,”.

NOAA’s Spinrad added, “We have a narrow window of time to avoid very costly, deadly, and irreversible future climate impacts. It is the consensus of the world’s scientists that we need strong, and sustained reduction in greenhouse gases.”

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Low emission zones: What you need to know if you’re driving in Europe

More and more cities around Europe are introducing low-emission zones, mostly administered by a sticker in your vehicle windscreen – but what if you're travelling between different countries? Here's a look at the rules around Europe, and which countries will accept a foreign vehicle sticker.

Low emission zones: What you need to know if you're driving in Europe

Hundreds of cities across the EU currently operate some form of low emission zone system in an effort to reduce air pollution caused by motor vehicles.

And the numbers are only going to increase, as more towns, cities and Member States set up low emission zones. In France, for example, from 2025 a total 43 towns and cities will require motorists, from home and abroad, to display the country’s Crit’Air stickers – with fines for non-appliance rising from €68 currently to €750.

Will one sticker fit all?

No. Some nations do recognise stickers from other countries – Spain has said it will recognise stickers from all EU states, Switzerland recognises France’s Crit’Air stickers, and Czechia has said that, when low-emission zones start coming into force, at first in the capital Prague, it will recognise stickers from Germany. 

But there is currently no standard, EU-wide system in place, which means that drivers planning multi-country journeys will have to ensure they follow the rules for low emission zones in each and every country they visit. That could mean a lot of stickers…

To make things more confusing, the rules are often complex, and may vary from city to city – even from day to day as temporary rules can come into effect during periods of high pollution.

Which countries in the EU have low emission zone rules?

There are a few, so we’ve broken them down EU nation by EU nation. Strap in.


There are seven low-emission areas in Austria – notably in the Vienna, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Styria, Tyrol and Burgenland regions – where stickers are required for light goods vehicles and heavy-duty vehicles such as trucks, buses, and coaches.

Rules affecting older cars – those registered before January 2006 – are expected to come into force soon. And it should be noted that motorhomes registered in vehicle class N require an environmental sticker.

Some low-emission zones do not officially require stickers (though they may be useful) but you may need to show your vehicle’s documentation if you are stopped by police

A single badge costs €29.90 plus VAT, and can be bought from the DEKRA site here.


The whole of Antwerp is a low-emission zone, while most of Brussels and certain areas of Ghent also have stricter emissions rules. 

Newer vehicles with Belgian or Dutch number places are not required to register on a database allowing them to enter these areas, but cars from other nations must do so – for free – before they are allowed to enter these areas. Alternatively, you can pay a fee (€35 per day for cars / 20€ for mopeds and motorbikes / 50€ for heavy goods vehicles) for an exemption pass.

Register your non-Belgian or Dutch plated vehicle for Brussels’ low-emission zone here

Any vehicle entering the Brussels Region Low Emission Zone without registering in advance is liable to a fine of €150, even if it complies with conditions for entry. Any inaccurate information submitted during registration is liable for an administrative fine of €25.

Register for Antwerp’s low-emission zone here, or use one of the Low Emission Zone machines dotted around the city. More information on those here.

You can check whether your vehicle is allowed in the low-emission zone in Ghent, here.

Buy your day-passes here – nb: Drivers of any foreign-registered vehicle (including The Netherlands) who would like to purchase a day pass must first register their vehicle.


A low-emission zone is being set-up in Prague for which drivers will need a windscreen sticker. The Czech ministry is yet to announce which foreign stickers will be recognised for foreign vehicles – though it is expected that German ones will be accepted. Czech vehicles are advised to apply for a sticker when they become available.


All heavy goods vehicles require a sticker to enter low emission zones throughout the country.

Meanwhile, older diesel vans, weighing up to 3.5 tonnes, lorries and buses aren’t allowed into the low-emission zones unless they’re fitted with a particulate filter.

As of October 1st, 2023, all diesel-powered cars must have a particulate filter in order to be able to drive legally in the low emission zones. 

The fine for cars driving illegally in the Danish low emission zones is DKK 1,500 (€202). 

If you drive a vehicle affected by the rules, you must register your particulate filter and/or euro norm. You can do that here.


In Helsinki, only local public transport buses and lorries are affected by low-emission zone rules.


France’s Crit’Air sticker system is currently in operation in 11 towns and cities, and will be extended to over 40 by 2025. All vehicles – including those registered outside France – are required to buy a sticker from the official site, here before they can be driven in any of the country’s low-emission zones.

The sticker costs €3.72 including postage if you’re in France, rising to €4.61 for those outside France. 

From January 1st, 2023, Crit’Air 5 vehicles (diesel vehicles produced before 2001) will be banned from all low-emission zones. This will be followed on January 1st, 2024 by Crit’Air 4 (diesel before 2006) and on January 1st 2025 by Crit’Air 3 (diesel before 2011 and petrol/diesel before 2006).

Local authorities can also impose targeted local bans – temporary and permanent – in zones under their jurisdiction. Since January 1st, Montpellier, for example, has required every car to have a Crit’Air 4 or lower sticker to drive in low emission zones, while lorries, minibuses and coaches need a Crit’Air 3.

The Mont Blanc tunnel between France and Italy is also an emission-check zone. Checks are manual and based on the age of the vehicle. It’s probably a good idea to have your car documents on you.

France does not recognise other countries’ stickers. 


Stickers allowing access to numerous low-emission zones in towns and cities across Germany can be purchased from garages, test stations, local authorities or online.

Proof of emissions is needed to purchase the sticker, so you’ll need your car documents if you’re buying in person.

If bought directly from city offices the stickers cost €5. Online they can cost more, while international postage will also add a premium onto the final bill. 

Alternatively, you can buy stickers from TÜV SÜD here – which will be shipped overseas – for €17.50, or from one of 300 TÜV SÜD service centres for €6.

TÜV-NORD, meanwhile, sells stickers online here for €9.90 if the vehicle is registered in Germany, or €17.50 if the vehicle is registered elsewhere.


Authorities have said that they want the capital Athens to be a diesel-free zone by 2025 and there are currently two schemes operational for part of the year in and around the city – the exact dates of the restriction period varies annually but it is usually from mid-October to mid-July.

In central Athens, during this restricted period, vehicles are controlled by their licence plate. Vehicles up to 2.2 tonnes are only allowed entry on alternate days, depending on whether their vehicle licence ends with an odd or an even number.

A special badge exempts certain categories of vehicle, such as electric, natural gas or LPG, hybrid, or Euro 6 class vehicles that emit less than 120 grammes of carbon dioxide per kilometre. To obtain a pass, click here

In the outer ring and the Attica prefecture region, Vehicles weighing more than 2.2 tonnes, including buses, must also meet minimum emissions standards.


Numerous low emission zones operate in Italy – mainly, but not exclusively, in the north of the country – with differing standards and time periods, while in numerous cities – including Rome, Milan, Turin, Florence, and Bologna – restrictions may mean you cannot drive in certain areas during the day on weekdays, or on Sundays.

Penalties for entering restricted zones at the wrong time range from €70 to €450.

In most cases, permits to enter these zones when restrictions are in place aren’t available to visitors, though there may be exemptions to this, while Milan operates a congestion charge system – similar to the one in London – for vehicles that enter the historic centre of the city.

The Mont Blanc tunnel between France and Italy is also an emission-check zone. Checks are manual and based on the age of the vehicle. It’s probably a good idea to have your car documents on you.


Amsterdam, Arnhem, Den Haag, Utrecht and Eindhoven (from 2025) have “green” LEZs for light duty diesel vehicles – meaning only light duty diesel vehicles that meet the Euro 4 standard and above may enter the zone. Rotterdam port, meanwhile, operates to a tighter Euro 6 standard.

Rotterdam and Utrecht have low emission zones which allow entry based on the date of a vehicle’s first registration. Dutch vehicles are registered through the national database, while drivers of foreign vehicles will need to have their documents with them.

Similar to Belgium, drivers of older vehicles can apply for an exemption to enter low-emission zones in Rotterdam and Utrecht. To apply for a day pass in Rotterdam, click here. Passes cost € 22.70, and last 24 hours. 

Drivers of older vehicles without an exemption risk a fine of €95.

Since January 1st, 2022, Utrecht has limited entry to diesel vehicles. Click here  to see if you can enter the city in your diesel vehicle


In Portugal, environmental zones are called Zona de Emissões Reduzidas (ZER) (Emission Reduced Zone). There are technically two zones – effectively an outer zone and an inner zone in the capital, Lisbon.

The inner zone (ZER ABC) is more strict than the outer one, allowing only vehicles of Euroclass 3 or better to access.

Euroclass 2 or better vehicles can enter the outer zone. Drivers who flout the rules can face fines of €120. The rules in Portugal allow for vehicle owners to retrofit their vehicles with filters that improve the engine’ Euroclass rating.


The rules in Spain are getting stricter. From 2023, all cities with 50,000 inhabitants or more must set up low-emission zones – that’s about 150 cities.

To date, however, Madrid and Barcelona are the only cities with low emission zones – Zona de Bajas Emisiones – in place.

Barcelona’s low-emission zone has been in place since January 2020. Vehicles must have a DGT environmental label to enter the zone between 7am and 8pm Monday to Friday. Additional rules may be enforced during periods of high pollution.

You can check whether you need a label here

Between 2023 and 2025, the Spanish capital, Madrid, will gradually become one giant low-emissions zone.

In Madrid, for example, vehicles without a Spanish sticker will no longer be allowed to drive on the M-30 ring road. 

You can order a DGT label, from €5 plus postage, here


Low emission zones in Sweden can be found in Gothenburg, Helsingborg, Lund, Malmö, Mölndal, Stockholm, Umeå, and Uppsala. There are, officially, three classes of zone, which apply to different types of vehicle. Two are currently in use, while the third is on the statutes but not the streets.

The most common applies – a class 3 zone – to buses and trucks weighing more than 3.5 tonnes, which must, in affected areas, conform to Euro6 standards. 

The country’s sole Class 2 zone, applies to passenger cars, light buses and vans not powered by hydrogen or electricity, which must conform to Euro5 standards – though diesel Euro5 vehicles were banned from these zones in July 2022. This zone is only enforced on one street in Stockholm – Hornsgatan in the Södermalm district.

Electric, fuel cell and gas vehicles will only be permitted in currently theoretical Zone 3 areas, as the country gears up to ban petrol and diesel vehicles altogether from 2030.

You mention Euro standards a lot. What does this mean?

It refers to emission standards for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles.

Since 1992, European Union regulations have been imposed on new cars, with the aim of improving air quality – that’s the same year catalytic converters became compulsory on new cars. 

Since then, there have been a series of Euro standards as the rules become more strict – the current Euro 6 was introduced in September 2014 and was rolled out for the majority of vehicle sales and registrations from September 2015.

They define acceptable limits for exhaust emissions of new light duty vehicles sold in EU and EEA (European Economic Area) member states.

However, although there are EU standards for cars, there is as yet no EU-wide version of the emissions stickers. 

And finally… Beware of scams

One last thing to be aware of – watch out for scam sites. Make sure you only order your stickers from official websites. Some portals charge as much as five times more than the actual cost of the stickers in “administration fees”. The links on this page were, at the time of publishing, correct.