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Why knowing how climate change contributes to extreme weather is key

Attributing extreme weather events to climate change, as I do through my work as a climatologist, means we can hold countries and companies to account for their inaction, says Friederike Otto

By Friederike Otto

16 August 2023

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Michelle D’urbano

MEDIA reporting on the role of climate change in extreme weather events used to be framed somewhere along the lines of: “Although this is the kind of phenomenon that global warming makes more frequent, we can’t attribute individual weather events to climate change.” This was correct in the 20th century, but it is definitely wrong today.

The first study to attribute an individual extreme event, the 2003 European summer heatwave, to climate change was published in 2004. Many followed. More than 50 are from World Weather Attribution, an initiative of climate scientists I co-founded in 2015 that studies events

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