Top UK scientist says brutal heat waves could hit ‘every 3 years’ if we don’t reduce greenhouse gas emissions
A top UK scientist warned that heat waves could hit every few years without climate change action.
Greenhouse gas emissions have made “extreme temperatures possible,” Stephen Belcher said.
The UK saw record-breaking temperatures on Tuesday, impacting transit and causing fires.
A top UK scientist warned on Tuesday that the country could see brutal heat waves every few years if it doesn’t take proper action to address climate change.
“I wasn’t expecting to see this in my career, but the UK has just exceeded 40 degrees Celsius for the first time,” Met Office Chief Scientist Stephen Belcher said in a video uploaded to the Met Office’s Twitter. “For me, it’s a real reminder that the climate has changed, and it will continue to change.”
The UK saw record-breaking temperatures on Tuesday of 104.36 degrees Fahrenheit (40.2 degrees Celsius) on the second day of extreme heat across Britain. High temperatures impacted other European countries, including France and Spain, and even sparked wildfires.
Belcher said research conducted at the Met Office, the UK’s national weather service, shows it’s “virtually impossible” to reach 40°C — or 104°F — in an “undisrupted climate.”
“But climate change driven by greenhouse gases has made these extreme temperatures possible, and we’re actually seeing that possibility now,” Belcher said. “If we continue under a high-emission scenario, we could continue to see temperatures like this every three years.”
Belcher said extreme temperatures will get worse in the future, adding that the “only way to stabilize the climate” is by reaching “net-zero” emissions — which means removing as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as people release into it, according to the World Economic Forum.
“The UK has already made strides in that direction already, but we want to stabilize the climate at a safe level, and that means reaching net zero soon,” Belcher said.
According to documents reviewed by Insider, the UK government planned last year to reach net zero emissions by 2050. To do so, it seeks to support green jobs and clean energy options, an outline of the strategy reveals.
However, a top UK court on Monday ruled that the strategy lacks credibility and ordered lawmakers to present an updated plan by March 2023, the Financial Times reported.
Meanwhile, as London braved Tuesday’s sweltering temperatures, Mayor Sadiq Khan warned there was a “huge surge in fires” across the city.
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