Killer heat waves will become more common in UK, lawmakers warn

UK summer temperatures are set to hit new highs and deadly heat waves are projected to become a bigger problem because of climate change, according to a report from an official government adviser on Thursday.

The country is currently in the midst of one of the hottest summers on record, according to the Met Office. A “level three heat-health watch” has been issued for much of southern and eastern England with temperatures predicted to rise to 35 Celsius (95 Fahrenheit).

The Environmental Audit Committee — a cross-party panel of UK lawmakers — found that Britain is unprepared for increasingly common periods of extreme heat.

It warned that the number of heat-related fatalities in the UK will triple to 7,000 a year by the 2050s, especially among older people who are “vulnerable and suffer increased fatalities from cardiac and respiratory disease during heatwaves.”

Homes and buildings, including hospitals and care homes, built to keep the heat in, are at risk of overheating, the committee found.

Climate change has doubled the risk of heat waves and instances as severe as 2003 — when the UK hit an all-time record temperature of 38.5 degrees Celsius — could occur “every other year” by the 2040s, the report said.

It went on to say that “despite this recognition of the severity of the risk, the Government does not provide clear information for the public on the developing threat of heatwaves, and there is no commonly accepted definition of a heatwave in the UK.”

The committee suggested the government needs to act to protect the public during periods of high temperatures.

The committee called for front-line health-care staff to be better prepared and for tougher rules to be put in place to ensure that new buildings are designed to prevent overheating.

Local councils should create more green spaces by planting more trees and vegetation to combat the urban heat island effect that sees metropolitan areas swelter because of a more dense infrastructure and more paved roads, both of which absorb more heat.