Climate action needed urgently

20 July 2022

The record-breaking temperatures we saw this summer have triggered a renewed focus on climate breakdown, and increased fear about what the future holds. 

40 degree heat killed 15,000 people in the French heatwave, from heat stroke, heart attacks and strokes. Temperatures like this do not constitute ‘a lovely warm summer’. For anyone romanticising the 1976 UK heatwave, the hottest day was 36 degrees and there were 20% excess deaths – similar to the first year of UK Covid figures.

We know to expect our weather to increasingly look like this, with far-reaching consequences for health, agriculture, water, food and energy supply. It will be a lot worse in other countries, some of which could become unliveable.

The immediate crisis in this country is made worse by the decades-long failure to tackle the twin challenges of climate and health. Health services from GPs to ambulances to social care are increasingly difficult to access. Hospitals are full, staff are exhausted. 

Government policy, motivated by ideology rather than problem-solving, has left us with these multiple intersecting crises. How depressing that the current candidates for PM are squabbling over tax cuts instead of carbon cuts. 

We need urgent action to make our infrastructure more resilient to extreme weather events. We need an urgent reduction in CO2 emissions in order to avoid the worst effects of climate breakdown, though we’ve left this far too late already and many consequences are now built in. 

Yes, there are things we can do as individuals to fight climate breakdown. For a practical list of significant actions, see But the heavy lifting has to be done on our behalf, by our governments. Use your voice and your vote, locally and nationally, to demand change, fast.

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