Bringing You the Daily Dispatch

Members of Parliament are calling for an urgent plan to address the heatwave in the UK in order to prevent loss of life.
Environment World News

Members of Parliament are calling for an urgent plan to address the heatwave in the UK in order to prevent loss of life.

A group of lawmakers from different political parties has cautioned that the UK must develop a strategy to avoid numerous fatalities from heatwaves each year due to the ongoing effects of climate change.

According to a report by MPs, over 4,500 individuals lost their lives in heatwaves in 2022. Without intervention, this number could potentially increase to 10,000 annually by 2050. The MPs described heatwaves as “silent killers” that can elevate heart rate and blood pressure, posing the greatest risk to individuals over 65 and those with pre-existing health conditions.

According to the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC), when temperatures increase from 22C to 32C, there is a higher risk of suicide and poorer sleep, both of which can negatively impact mental health. This can result in a loss of £60bn in productivity for the economy each year.

In 2022, temperatures in the UK exceeded 40 degrees Celsius for the first time, and in 2023, it was declared the hottest year globally. However, according to the Met Office, by 2050, record-breaking hot summers may occur every other year. Scientists have confirmed that the climate crisis is increasing the frequency and severity of heatwaves.

According to Members of Parliament, there is a clear argument for taking urgent action to safeguard individuals from extreme heat. The report suggests implementing measures such as creating more green areas, installing fans in homes, and using window shutters and white roofs to reduce the effects of the sun’s heat. The MPs noted that nearly 5 million homes in England are already impacted by overheating during summer months, emphasizing the significant amount of effort needed to address this issue. However, they believe that these efforts can be incorporated into existing energy efficiency renovations.

Philip Dunne, the chair of the EAC, stated that the current high temperatures caused by climate change present a serious threat to people’s health and overall well-being. It is imperative that immediate measures be taken to adjust to the changing climate in the UK.

The speaker stated that taking steps to prevent the dangers of overheating is obvious, but none are being implemented on a large scale. They also believe that the current government policies do not fully understand the pressing nature of this issue.

The latest climate adaptation plan from the government received criticism for being inadequate upon its release in July 2023. The report by EAC stated that it primarily consists of already existing policies and initiatives, lacking a sense of urgency or ambition.

The report suggests utilizing natural solutions like parks, trees, and green roofs to decrease heat in communities. It cites evidence that major cities, such as London, can be significantly hotter (up to 8C) than their surrounding rural areas. The report also proposes that the government should consider altering building regulations to promote the use of ceiling fans.

Men with long-handled brushes

Display the image in full screen mode.

The Members of Parliament (MPs) supported the idea of using white paint on roofs of buildings, as shown by evidence from New York City, which can significantly lower indoor temperatures. Experts informed the MPs that installing external window shutters can reduce the chances of heat-related deaths in homes by approximately 40%, which is comparable to the effects of using air conditioning.

The Members of Parliament expressed concern over the widespread utilization of energy-consuming air conditioning systems, as it could lead to a harmful cycle of increased carbon emissions and further trapping of heat in the atmosphere. They urged for measures to be taken to improve the energy efficiency of air conditioners.

The Members of Parliament suggested that in order to improve the heat resistance of homes, efforts should be made to enhance current initiatives on insulation and energy efficiency. This can be achieved through a nationwide retrofit program implemented by local authorities, with sustained financial backing.

Bypass the advertisement for the newsletter.

In 2021, the government implemented fresh rules in order to avoid excessive warmth in newly constructed homes. However, these regulations do not affect the current buildings that 80% of the population will reside in by 2050, or former office spaces that have been turned into apartments. Members of Parliament also expressed the need for immediate measures to support homeowners in obtaining affordable financing for retrofitting. The government has not yet provided a response to the consultation conducted on this matter in 2020.

The Met Office should consider naming heatwaves in order to increase public awareness, similar to how they name storms, and including humidity levels in weather forecasts. High humidity in hot weather can be particularly harmful to health as it interferes with the body’s ability to cool down through sweat evaporation.

Bob Ward, a researcher at the Grantham Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics, stated: “This report accurately highlights the numerous flaws in the government’s inadequate strategy for addressing heatwaves.”

He stated that the report could have been more explicit in addressing the dire condition of housing in Britain. Many homes are inadequately designed and built, resulting in difficulty retaining heat in the winter and keeping it out in the summer. This is causing the deaths of thousands of individuals annually.

The government’s failure to implement a nationwide retrofitting program to improve the resilience of homes and offices to extreme temperatures is a disgrace for the nation.

Source: theguardian.com