As the country struggles to cool down in an increasingly hot summer, a new study has identified the communities that will be hardest hit and/or least able to cope.
Birmingham has the highest number of communities in urgent need of help to cope with hot weather, according to analysis by the University of Manchester and campaigners Friends of the Earth (FoE).
The city is followed by the London boroughs of Newham, Tower Hamlets and Hackney, as well as Nottingham.
The number of people exposed to extreme heat is “rising very quickly as the planet warms”, showing the “real human consequences” of failing to cut emissions, FoE head of science, policy and research Mike Childs told Sky News.
The study sends a “very strong signal to politicians that we need to double down on cutting carbon emissions, unlike some candidates for our next prime minister… who suggest that perhaps we could abandon climate action “, he said. said.
Climate change has already warmed Britain by 0.9 degrees. Every year, about 800 people die because of the heat.
The researchers identified areas prone to hot weather and then assessed more than 40 factors that make those communities vulnerable. Age is one of them – the risks for the elderly and young children are well known.
There are also less discussed risks such as crime rates, with high crime rates deterring people from opening their windows.
The landscape also plays a big role, as concrete heavy areas absorb a lot of heat, while street trees and green spaces have a cooling effect and provide shelter, and high-rise buildings are particularly susceptible to overheating.
Birmingham is not only urban but also has a large stock of private rented accommodation in poor condition.
Mr Childs said these areas should be targeted for more support – such as planting more trees along streets, installing air conditioning in community centers or upgrading homes to keep them warmer in winter and cooler in summer.
Mr Childs called it an issue of “equity” and “race”, with the most affected communities all having a below-average carbon footprint and ethnically diverse people four times more likely to live in a vulnerable community than white people.
FoE wants the government to prioritize the 3,000 most vulnerable areas for publicly funded adaptation projects, and to double emissions cuts to avoid further warming.
A government spokesman said Britain had already cut emissions faster than any other G7 country and had set aside a “significant” £1.2 billion for councils to take action at local level.
It is also working on plans to reduce the risk of overheating in new housing – although existing housing stock remains a challenge.
The Local Government Association could not be reached for comment.
Professor Robert Lowe, who specializes in energy sustainability and the human-made environment at University College London, said that while climate change is dangerous, the current “disruption of global supply chains and the likelihood that an energy crisis will be followed by a food crisis and general impoverishment” made the requirements “unrealistic”.
The researchers first focused on England, which has the highest risk and the largest population.
A similar project being considered by Wales is ongoing.
The analysis comes as government climate advisers warn of the danger of “locking in” the dangerous effects of climate change in our homes.
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