The Heatwave

Does this hot weather remind you of the summer of 1976? Although forty-plus years ago, people still talk about that earlier heatwave.

But there’s an important difference.

Back then high temperatures here at home weren’t matched elsewhere in the world. The British weather was unusual. Not any more. This summer, the extreme heat is being felt far more widely, with over 100 perishing in the heatwave in Japan and terrible forest fires raging in Greece and even the Arctic Circle. On 5 July the hottest temperature ever recorded in Africa (51.3C) was measured in Algeria.

According to Professor Peter Stott of the Met Office, this reflects the fact that climate change is “coming true before our eyes”. The increased build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is, in his words, “loading the dice towards extreme weather”. We see that in more destructive hurricanes which a scientific consensus attributes to warming oceans.

All this is why it is so important that UK continues to take a leading role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and limiting climate change. 2015 was an important year, and the talks in Paris culminated in a global deal, with the overwhelming majority of countries in the world now signed up. Britain is well on track to reducing emissions by 80 per cent on 1990 levels by 2050. And we will be one of the first developed countries to take coal out of the energy mix by 2025.

Meanwhile, here in Cheltenham more needs to be done to keep the streets clean during the dry weather. Last week a tourist came into my constituency office in Henrietta Street to complain, very forcefully, that Cheltenham’s town centre was the dirtiest she had ever seen.

I’m afraid she had a point.

I’m told Ubico’s washer has been broken for a number of weeks. If so, how hard can it be to hire a replacement?

With regional competition for customers as hot as the weather, appearances matter.