Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has warned that UK capital faces the “incredibly worrying” prospect of enduring days that hit 45C (113F) due to the worsening climate crisis.
Khan, who was speaking at a climate summit in New York where governments have gathered to discuss how to best cope with searing temperatures, said that an interim independent climate resilience report for London has found the capital could experience multiple 45C days “in the foreseeable future”, potentially buckling various basic functions of the city.
“It means the Underground is not fit for purpose, some of the homes are too hot in the daytime, care homes and schools too,” Khan said. “It means we have to adapt for those temperatures now. It’s now time for those who are delaying action to wake up and smell the coffee because this is happening now. It’s now and it’s happening to us.”
The London mayor said that he had ensured the planting of more shading trees and the installation of air conditioning on buses but that more government support was needed to help cities adapt to the climate crisis, criticising the UK’s Conservative government for not providing a green stimulus akin to the US’s Inflation Reduction Act to help retrofit buildings and spur jobs in renewable energy.
“We are learning expertise from other cities but we can’t pretend we aren’t behind because the UK has been slow catching up,” Khan said from New York, ahead of the annual UN general assembly and a special climate summit this week.
Speaking further, he said “We have to throw everything at this. We’ve had very little support from the government. The fact the prime minister [Rishi Sunak] isn’t coming to the UN general assembly and may not go to Cop28 speaks volumes.”
Recall that London’s climate review was launched in June, nearly a year after the UK capital experienced an extraordinary, record-breaking heatwave. Temperatures breached 40C (104F) in London for the first time on record in July last year, causing schools to close, hospital operations to be cancelled and for the London fire brigade to have its busiest day since the second world war as it fought numerous blazes, including wildfires at the city’s outskirts.
Temperatures of 40C were previously almost unthinkable for the temperate climes of the UK, with Professor Hannah Cloke, at the University of Reading, saying at the time of the heatwave: “The all-time temperature record for the UK has not just been broken, it has been absolutely obliterated. Even as a climate scientist who studies this stuff, this is scary.”
However, the reality of the worsening climate crisis will heighten the risk of even hotter temperatures in the future. London faces the distinct possibility of enduring withering temperatures of 45C, along with other hazards such as flooding, as the world continues to heat up, according to Emma Howard Boyd, the chair of the climate review and former chair of the UK Environment Agency.
Story was adapted from the Guardian.