With scientists predicting the intensity of such heatwaves will increase due to climate change, a new study by Friends of the Earth and the University of Manchester has called for more to be done to protect vulnerable communities from extreme heat.
The researchers forecast that even if the world hits its target of reducing global warming to 1.5°C, more than six million people from 3,000 of the UK’s most vulnerable postcodes will be regularly exposed to high temperatures of 27.5°C over five or more days during the summer.
In a worst case scenario of a 3°C hike in global temperatures, these areas could face frequent and prolonged bursts of what the analysis described as “dangerously hot weather” of 30°C and over for five days or more.
This temperature is the point at which the UK Health Security Agency issues heat-health alerts.
The research classified neighbourhoods as vulnerable if they:
- Are based in locations where high temperatures are likely
- Contain high numbers of older people and children
- Have a lack of green space in which to shelter from the heat
- Have housing - like high rise blocks or mobile homes - that’s susceptible to overheating
Reflecting on the findings, Friends of the Earth has called for public funding to be made available to local areas so they can put in place measures that will better protect them from hot weather.
These adaptations would include the planting of trees in urban areas and household measures - including insulation, ventilation and shutters.
“Extreme heatwaves and health alerts, like we’re seeing this week, will become much more frequent and severe due to climate change,” said Mike Childs, head of research at Friends of the Earth.
“To prevent the most dangerous scenarios becoming a reality, all countries, including the UK, must make greater efforts to prevent runaway climate breakdown.
“We need governments to double-down on cutting emissions and providing funding for climate adaptation programmes.”
NationalWorld has approached the government for comment.
Friends of the Earth has identified 30 local authority areas in need of the greatest support.
They have been ranked in order of how many vulnerable neighbourhoods they contain.