UK summer heatwave 30 times more likely because of climate change

It has only been equalled three times since 1910. And experts say the temperatures — which peaked at 96F (35.6C) — were about 30 times more likely as a result of climate change caused by human activities.

The UK now has around a 12 per cent chance of summer average temperatures being as high as they were a few months ago. But they would have less than a 0.5 per cent chance of happening without global warming, the Met Office said.

It added that by mid century there will be a 50 per cent chance of summers as hot this year — making the sweltering conditions the norm. Soaring summer heat hurt crops and livestock, affected water and transport and sparked wildfires.

Professor Peter Stott, from the Met Office and University of Exeter, said: “The intensity of this summer's heatwave is around 30 times more likely than would have been the case without climate change.”And he said: "This rapidly increasing chance results from the increase in concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere."

Carbon dioxide concentrations reached 405.5 parts per million (ppm) in the atmosphere in 2017, about 146% of levels seen in the pre-industrial era when concentrations of the gas which warms the climate were around 280 ppm.

The Met Office is announcing the findings at the UN climate talks in Poland, where countries are meeting to finalise the rules of how the Paris Agreement on tackling global warming will work and to build momentum towards increasing ambition on efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven said: "The link between climate change and extreme weather like the heatwave that scorched the UK last summer is getting stronger.

"It used to be a fingerprint, it now looks more like a smoking gun. If we stay on the current course, we know the kind of world we're heading towards: more floods, heatwaves, droughts, and rising sea levels."

He said the window of opportunity to avoid dangerous climate change was "still open, but only just", and called on political leaders to take action, including replacing fossil fuels with renewables, cutting emissions from homes and cars, and halting destruction of the rainforests.

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