Bob Ward: London can expect more 40C extreme weather — this is how we must prepare

Posted on 1/07/24 by Yisum Heneghan

Bob Ward, Chair of the LCRP, had the following article published in The Standard on 30th June 2024: 

“Even as this week’s burst of high temperatures fades, Londoners need to prepare for more extreme heatwaves that could end lives across the capital, and cost the economy a fortune.

So today, the emergency, health and transport services, together with local government, are carrying out a wargame exercise to test how they would respond to a five-day period of temperatures in excess of 40C.

Operation Helios, named after the Greek god of the sun, should help London’s authorities to identify challenges and weaknesses that could prove critical when the city inevitably suffers several successive days of unprecedentedly high temperatures.

Two years ago, London and other parts of England experienced a temperature of more than 40C for the first time, and nearly 400 people across the city died as a result of the summer heatwave periods.

During the worst heat, the capital also faced terrifying wildfires in the suburbs, with London Fire Brigade experiencing its busiest day since the Second World War.

This was not a one-off and the Met Office has warned that the probability of similar temperatures, or higher, is growing all the time due to climate change. More than 1,300 people have died from summer heatwave conditions in London over the past four years.

Most of those who have perished had underlying health conditions such as respiratory illnesses, and were in hospitals, care homes or their own houses.

Many of these deaths could have been prevented if London’s buildings were better adapted to extreme heat, with adequate ventilation, shutters and other measures.

Unfortunately, many of the capital’s buildings overheat even during mild summers, and deaths can occur when outside temperatures are still below 30C, like we have seen this week.

We need an ambitious programme to retrofit our buildings so they are fit for London’s warming climate.

Without such investment, London could soon become a place that is too dangerous to live and work in during the summer.”

To read the article, please click here:

London can expect more 40C extreme weather — this is how we must prepare | Evening Standard