ROME/LISBON/ATHENS - Six European countries have issued a stark warning over the climate crisis following a summer of heatwaves and wildfires.

The leaders of Italy, Greece, Croatia, Slovenia, Malta and Portugal have urged countries to take immediate action amid fears extreme summers in southern Europe will harm the tourist industry and harvests.

"Extreme natural phenomena are destroying the ecosystem and threatening our daily life, our way of life," said a statement signed by six EU presidents on Thursday.

They added: "There is no more time to waste, no more time to compromise for political or economic reasons."

Large areas of the Mediterranean sweltered under an intense heatwave last month as firefighters battled to put out deadly blazes across a region stretching from Algeria to Turkey.

The leaders of the six nations said the Mediterranean was particularly exposed to the risks of water shortages and desertification.

Their statement added: "All Mediterranean countries must coordinate and react, engage in a collective effort to halt and reverse the effects of the climate crisis.”

The initiative was started through a telephone call between Italy's president Sergio Mattarella and his Greek counterpart, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, and then extended to other members of the "Arraiolos Group" of non-executive presidents from EU states.

The statement stopped short of proposing concrete remedies to try to deal with the issue.

Italy itself needs to step up efforts to meet an EU 2030 target for lower carbon emissions, a government document seen by Reuters showed last month.

Dozens killed in wildfires

The statement comes after wildfires raged in many parts of southern Europe, the Mediterranean, and North Africa, as countries endured soaring temperatures amid a summer heatwave.

Greece was one of the worst-affected nations, with more than 21,000 people evacuated from the islands of Rhodes and Corfu after the spread of forest fires.

Italy, Portugal, Croatia, Tunisia and Algeria were affected by wildfires, prompting evacuations.

At least 40 people died across Algeria, Italy and Greece.

Meanwhile, July is set to be world's hottest month on record.

The mean global temperature is projected to be at least 0.2C warmer than July 2019, the former hottest in the 174-year observational record, according to EU data.

July 2023 is estimated to be roughly 1.5C above the pre-industrial mean.

Oceans hit hottest ever recorded temperature

In a separate warning about the state of the planet, on Monday the EU's climate change service Copernicus reported that the temperatures of our oceans have reached their highest recorded levels, as they absorb warmth resulting from climate change.

This week, the average daily global sea surface temperature surpassed the 2016 record, reaching 20.96C.

This development carries serious consequences for the overall health of our planet.

The oceans play a crucial role in regulating the climate by soaking up heat, producing oxygen and influencing weather patterns.

However, as temperatures of the oceans rise, they become less capable of absorbing carbon dioxide, resulting in a higher concentration of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere.

Warmer waters can also speed up the melting of glaciers that feed into the ocean, leading to an increase in sea levels.