There will be more extreme weather and more destruction to human beings and wildlife without a stronger climate response from the Government, experts have warned, as the Met Office said 2022 will be the UK’s warmest year on record.
Provisional data from the Met Office shows that 2022 has set a 139-year annual mean temperature record, exceeding the previous one set eight years ago.
The average temperature for the year is on track to beat the previous all-time high of 9.88C set in 2014, and the exact figure will be confirmed in the new year.
Since 1884, when records began, the 10 years recording the highest temperatures have all been since 2003 and this year has also been the warmest on record in the 364-year Central England series, the world’s longest instrumental record of temperature which began in 1659.
Meanwhile, according to data from the Office for National Statistics, 56,303 people died during five periods of hot weather between mid-June and late August – 3,271 above the long-term average.
Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science, said: “These figures provide further undeniable evidence that the UK is warming like the rest of the world.
“The extraordinary summer temperatures, which killed more than 3,000 people around the country, shows that climate change is creating a growing toll through more frequent and intense weather extremes, including heatwaves and heavy rainfall.
“These impacts will continue to increase until global emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are cut to net zero.”
This year also saw a record for the hottest day on July 19, when the UK saw temperatures exceed 40C for the first time and grassfires caused unprecedented destruction of property.
The hot spell also saw the Met Office issue its first red warning for extreme heat.
Mike Childs, head of policy, science and research at Friends of the Earth, said: “It’s no surprise that the UK has had its hottest year on record following the extreme heatwaves this summer. What is surprising is that the Government is failing so badly to act on climate change.
“It’s granted permission for a new coal mine in Cumbria, given the fossil fuel companies tax breaks to extract more oil and gas, and failed to properly invest in home insulation, despite sky-high energy bills and millions of people in fuel poverty.
“Our climate is in crisis, people are suffering across the world, and governments need to start taking this seriously.”
Rebecca Newsom, head of politics at Greenpeace UK, said: “These aren’t the kind of records you want to be breaking. I’m sure most of us would rather see record-breaking investment in the renewable technologies that’ll get us out of this mess.
“While some newspapers were celebrating the summer sizzler, many of us felt a creeping dread when we saw the scorched brown earth of the heatwave.
“This isn’t an abstract thing. People around the world are already suffering the devastating consequences of climate breakdown, despite having done little to cause it, like the severe flooding in Pakistan recently.
“But you don’t have to look far to see the accelerating impacts of the climate crisis; increased flooding, unseasonable temperatures and erratic weather systems are becoming the norm.
“The Government can’t just talk big on the world stage. If they’re serious about creating green jobs, keeping homes warm and lowering people’s bills, they urgently need to take action at home to reduce our use of fossil fuels, insulate homes and plough more money into renewable solutions.”