UK summers could be over 5C warmer by 2070

27th November 2018

End support for fracking, airport expansion and road-building, government urged

Ministers are being urged to end their support for climate-wrecking projects like fracking, airport expansion and road-building after the Met Office today warned that UK summers could be over 5C warmer by 2070.

The report comes on the same day that Friends of the Earth revealed the frontlines of climate change in England to mark the 10th anniversary of the Climate Change Act and the urgent action still needed to prevent runaway climate change.

Responding to the Met Office report, Friends of the Earth climate campaigner Emi Murphy said:

“Climate change will have a devastating impact on the UK with more extreme weather, rising sea levels and scorching summers – so why isn’t the government doing far more to tackle this crisis?

“Flooding, already a devastating problem for many communities, is set to get far worse, and this summer’s heatwave could become the new normal – with the associated threats of wildfires, health risks and harm to crops and wildlife.

“With its relentless pursuit of fracking, airport expansion and road building, and lukewarm support for renewable energy, the government is failing to face up to the threat of catastrophic climate breakdown.

“Ministers must develop an urgent action plan to develop a zero-carbon future – and strengthen the Climate Change Act to ensure this is achieved.”

Friends of the Earth is also urging the government to provide support and finance to help poorer countries cut their emissions and adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change.

Friends of the Earth today revealed the frontlines of climate change in England

From Norfolk to North Yorkshire, these communities are already facing the effects of climate chaos and are the ones most at risk of further catastrophe:

1. Coastal communities in Norfolk falling into the sea. Communities such as Happisburgh have seen as many as 35 homes claimed by coastal erosion in the past decade. Local campaigners have repeatedly appealed for more government assistance, but this has been refused and obscure laws means that compensation has been refused for those who have lost their homes to the sea.

2. Moorlands in the North West being turned into tinderboxes. Soaring summer temperatures in the UK led to moors such as Saddleworth burning for days on end; leaving them as charred husks, ruining ecosystems, threatening local towns and increasing air pollution. With a greater risk of summer heatwaves due to climate change, we may well see wildfires become a far too regular threat.

3. York and Leeds disappear under flood waters. York and Leeds saw devastating flooding off the back of Storm Desmond in 2015 (at the same time as world leaders attended the climate talks in Paris) which led to people having to be evacuated by boat as water levels rose higher and higher. Scientists concluded that climate change had made the flooding more likely. This likelihood is only set to increase if steps are not taken to cut emissions.

4. Low-lying communities in Somerset. The winter of 2014 saw floods in the region leave homes and farms completely submerged, which had a knock in effect on farming and production for months. With Centre for Ecology and Hydrology researchers concluding the floods had indeed been worsened by climate change, the prospect of food scarcity and increased prices is becoming very real for UK consumers if the necessary action to avoid further climate chaos is not taken now.

5. Farmers facing heatwaves and droughts. As well as extreme flooding, UK farming is also threatened by the risk of regular summer heatwaves, like those seen this year which left farms across Surrey, Kent and East Anglia parched after weeks on end with no rain. Some farmers have noted crop yields lowered by upwards of 40%, which again has serious implications for future food stocks and prices.

6. Devon and Cornwall’s coastal railways collapsing into the ocean. Brutal Atlantic storms led to the collapse of a stretch of sea wall at Dawlish Warren – taking railway track with it. This left the main trainline connecting the region to the capital out of action for months. The impact on the community was all too real, but we must also consider the wider ramifications of key transport lines being disrupted by an increased number of extreme weather events in the future.