The UK’s record temperature of 40 degrees Celsius would have been “virtually impossible” without climate change driven by greenhouse gases, the Met Office chief scientist has said, urging leaders to find a way to reach net-zero emissions sooner rather than later.
The new record high reached on Tuesday has caused havoc with the UK’s road and rail networks, fires, and a growing number of deaths. But such extremes could become a regular occurrence unless government and business take action, said Professor Stephen Belcher.
“If we continue under a high emissions scenario we could see conditions like this every three years,” said Belcher, who is also a member of the government’s chief scientific adviser network, in a video statement. “We’re already committed to a level of warming and these extremes will get more extreme in future.
“The only way that we can stabilise the climate is by achieving net zero and of course the UK has made some great strides in that direction already. But we want to stabilise the climate at a safe level and that means reaching net zero soon.”
The government has committed to reaching net zero emissions by 2050 but it is frequently criticised for not doing enough to achieve its goal.
On Monday evening, as temperatures in London hit 35C, the high court ordered the government to explain its position, insisting the current net zero strategy “lacked any explanation or quantification of how the government’s plans would achieve the emissions target, and as such had failed to meet its obligations under Climate Change Act (CCA) 2008”, according to the Guardian.