This is not normal. An unprecedented red warning for extreme heat has been issued over large swathes of Britain, as London braces for its first 40C day.
We’ve grown used to the uncommon in the last few years. Lockdowns, empty streets and shuttered schools. But as a result of human-induced climate change, heatwaves such as these — generating temperatures never before seen on this island — will become more and more a feature of our lives.
The trend is clear. Nine of the 10 hottest days ever recorded in the UK have taken place since 1990. Should the all-time record fall today or tomorrow, that would mean all 10. And the sad reality is that people will die as a result of this weather.
Last summer, there were 1,634 excess deaths during periods of heatwaves, according to Public Health England. The year before, it was 2,556. We must look out for ourselves and our neighbours, particularly the elderly and medically vulnerable, at this dangerous moment. These conditions are not limited to the UK. Wildfires are raging across south-west Europe, while temperature records are rising across the world. This is a global emergency.
Concerns about inflation and the cost of living understandably occupy voters’ minds, but they also care about combating catastrophic climate change. The public deserves better than heavily caveated endorsements of net-zero from Conservative leadership candidates.
Whoever wins the contest must not only re-commit to our vital and legally binding climate targets, but redouble their efforts through policy and political will to make it happen. This is no longer just about our duty to future generations. Those living today need a habitable planet too.
Next PM’s capital gain
A NEW Conservative leader and Prime Minister represents an opportunity to reset the Government’s relationship with London.
Our city’s name has often been absent from policy documents, while the Government’s dysfunctional relationship with City Hall, most obvious in holding Transport for London hostage over a long-term financial package, made it feel as if we were the fall guy in a pitch to other voters somewhere else.
London was the hardest-hit region by the pandemic while the nationwide cost of living crisis is made far worse in the capital due to the spiralling cost of rent. Yet there can be no nationwide recovery without a thriving London and South-East.
A new leader can seize the moment and change discourse with London. Given our population of nine million people — and home 73 parliamentary constituencies — we should not be strangers.
The next PM must ensure the Cabinet stops using London as a political punching bag, and instead engage with us, help us thrive and in doing so bring the country with us.
Bison are a wild idea
First it was beavers, now rewilding has reached bison. The animals have been reintroduced into Kent for the first time in thousands of years, as part of a plan to boost biodiversity. We welcome our new bovine friends and await the arrival of woolly mammoths back to our shores.