Britain’s Parliament Finds Something That Unites Them: The Heatwave
(Bloomberg) -- In a rare sign of political unity, British lawmakers voiced concerns for the climate in a week that saw the highest winter temperatures ever recorded.
The House of Commons debate on climate issues is the first on the subject since September 2016 and lawmakers from all parties spoke of unease at the recent extreme weather events at home and abroad. Temperatures in Britain topped 21 degrees Celsius (70 degrees Fahrenheit) earlier this week, while Australia has experienced its hottest summer on record.
“The lovely weather was lovely was it not, but do we not remember a year a go, The Beast From the East, these extreme weather events are not to be welcomed,” said Layla Moran, a politician for the Liberal Democrats. “They are not good things they are a sign that something has gone horrifically wrong.”
Scientists agree that while individual weather events cannot be directly attributed to climate change, global warming increases the likelihood of extreme conditions. The U.K. was the first country in the world to introduce a Climate Change Act that set out targets to combat emissions and tackle global warming.
“We have spent far too long discussing Brexit in this chamber and not enough at the absolutely thumping alarm that is being sounded that we are seeing all around us in our planet,” Mary Creagh, a Labour lawmaker, said during the debate.
The Committee on Climate Change, independent advisers to the U.K. government, are currently looking at how the country can get to net zero by 2050 and is planning to publish its findings in May.
Green Party politician Caroline Lucas criticized the ruling Conservative Party for reversing policies that would help the country decarbonize, including an effective ban on onshore wind and committing to produce natural gas through the method known as fracking.
“In the U.K. this week records have again been broken,” Lucas said. “This is not normal. we are not in a time of normal. The importance of these seismic changes for the future of life on earth and human civilization are profound.”
While Britons enjoyed the unusually warm sunshine this week, the winter heatwave helped start wildfires and left some parts of the countries with poor quality that triggered health warnings. The fires on Saddleworth Moor in the Pennines between Manchester and Leeds burnt out of control on Wednesday, with firefighters tackling blazes on crisp-dry moorlands typically covered with snow thirty years ago.
“Clearly you can’t attribute individual weather extremes or events to climate change, it’s just not scientific, it’s just not possible but the trends do tell a story,” said Zac Goldsmith, a Conservative lawmaker. “The hottest days have become hotter, the number of
warm spells have increased, the coldest days are not as cold there has been an increase in rainfall levels. None of it individually is catastrophic but it is a sign.”
Temperatures have started to fall toward more normal and are expected to be average for the time of year by early next week.
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