Heatwave deaths ‘to triple by 2050 without government action’

The Environmental Audit Committee says dangerous temperatures in summer could be normal by the 2040s

By Jonny Bairstow

Deaths caused by soaring temperatures are set to triple by 2050 unless the government takes action to avoid dangers.

That’s according to a new report from the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC), which suggests the higher temperatures which caused more than 2,000 deaths in 2003 will be normal summer temperatures by the 2040s.

The EAC says heatwaves will threaten the wellbeing of an increasing number of vulnerable people, such as the elderly.

To mitigate the dangers, it is calling on the government to ensure the NHS issues guidance on planning for more frequent heatwaves, inspect resilience to heatwaves in hospitals and care homes, change building regulations to prevent overheating and review the capacity of local authorities to help.

It also recommends introducing stricter water efficiency standards, studying how hot weather can result in economic losses through transport failures, making businesses aware of the threat of heatwaves and establishing a minister in the Department of Health and Social Care responsible for health risks related to climate change.

Mary Creagh MP, Chair of the EAC, said: “Heatwave warnings are welcomed as barbecue alerts but they threaten health, wellbeing and productivity.

“The government must stop playing pass the parcel with local councils and the NHS and develop a strategy to protect our ageing population from this increasing risk.”