Climate expert's grim warning for New Zealand as Europe battles deadly heatwave

A climate expert has a grim warning saying climate change will have "catastrophic" impacts on people and economies as Europe battles with a deadly heatwave. 

Europe is on fire with a heatwave so extreme that it's causing train tracks to bend and roads to buckle.

Deadly wildfires in France, Portugal, Spain and Greece have forced thousands of people to evacuate their homes and seen hundreds of deaths.

Fires are also raging across London, while Lancashire recorded the UK's highest ever temperature of 40.3 degrees.

British minister Kit Malthouse told parliament on Wednesday (local time) at least 41 properties were destroyed in London and more than a dozen elsewhere in Britain.

At least 13 people have died - seven of them teenage boys - in Britain while swimming, with the London Fire Brigade enduring its busiest day since World War Two on Tuesday.

Climate Scientist James Renwick told AM on Thursday if countries don't get on top of their emissions the results will be "catastrophic".

"It's already catastrophic for some communities in England for instance, eventually these extreme events will be so devastating they'll wreck the economy, wreck societies, so we really have to get on," he told AM fill in host Laura Tupou. 

"The more we see these extreme events, I don't want anyone to get hurt really, but that seems to be the way it works as a damaging extreme that will spur some action. I really hope there's a response along those lines."

The extreme weather is also impacting New Zealand with parts of South Canterbury in a State of Emergency on Thursday morning, while the InterIslander cancelled ferry services to Picton.

Renwick said climate change is behind the wild weather New Zealand's seen in 2022.

"You've got to have a storm, you've got to have some natural weather event, but, yes, climate change is implicated there as well, because the amount of moisture in the air is a function of temperature. The warmer the year gets, the more moisture on average there is in that air," he said.

"So where there's a storm, there's more water to fall out of the storm. So you get heavy rainfall events, possibly bigger storms and stronger winds.

"We saw some high wind recorded in Canterbury in the last few days. So the intensity of storms increases as the amount of energy in the climate system increases, which is what's happening as the climate warms up."

Watch the full interview with James Renwick above.