This week has seen the UK receive its first ever extreme heat warning. The notification from the Met Office covers large parts of Wales and all of the South-West, including Gloucestershire. At the time of writing it is expected to last to the end of the week.
Although this warning is the first of its kind in the UK, it is unlikely to be the last. It’s clear now that that the planet is heating up. Climate change has switched from a theoretical future possibility to a present reality. Even if we in Cheltenham have so far avoided the catastrophe that has befallen some parts of Germany, we know the damage and distress that volatile weather brings. Who can forget the floods of 2007?
I have said for many years, and long before I entered Parliament, that climate change and antibiotic resistance are the two greatest threats facing humanity, given rising sea levels and increasing crop failures.
It’s why in 2019, as Cheltenham's MP, I introduced the Bill to Parliament which legally committed the UK to reach Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050. We are making good progress in the UK, and have reduced emissions on 1990 levels by around 45%.
But despite our leadership role, we’re responsible for just 1% of global emissions. China emits around 30% of the total, the United States about 15%, Russia 5%. Without international cooperation, runaway 3-4% warming is perilously possible.
The better news is that Nature is resilient. Given a chance, it will rebound, just as cod stocks bounce back when intensive fishing is halted. So, at the climate change conference in Glasgow in the autumn, the global community needs to come together and take urgent action to address the crisis.
That doesn’t mean dismantling the enterprise economy and free society, as some have called for. But it does mean decisive action. Now.