UK’s record-breaking June heat bears ‘fingerprint of climate change’ – Met Office

By Farouq Suleiman

LONDON (Reuters) – Last month was the hottest June on record in Britain, the country’s national weather service said on Monday, warning that human-induced climate change was making such temperature records increasingly likely.

Record heatwaves have become a worldwide pattern, as scientists warn that efforts to halt a rise in temperatures are falling short of what is needed to avert the most catastrophic effects of global warming.

Britain’s Met Office said the average mean temperature of 15.8C in June was the highest in a series going back almost 140 years, beating a previous record of 14.9°C set in 1940 and 1976.

“All the numbers are suggesting that we’re going in the wrong direction when it comes to the heat, the intensity of the heat and how prolonged it is,” the Met Office’s meteorologist Clare Nasir told Reuters.

Last year, Britain recorded its hottest ever day when temperatures topped the 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) mark for the first time, causing disruption to infrastructure like airports and railways, and sparking wildfires.

Describing the latest record as bearing a “fingerprint of climate change” the Met Office said a study by its scientists had found the chance of June being hotter than 14.9C had at least doubled since around 1940.

“Alongside natural variability, the background warming of the Earth’s atmosphere due to human-induced climate change has driven up the possibility of reaching record high temperatures,” said Paul Davies, Met Office Climate Extremes Principal Fellow and Chief Meteorologist.

Last week, Spain recorded temperatures of up to 44C as the two biggest emitters, China and the United States, saw a series of heatwaves in June.

Earlier in the month, British water supplier South East Water introduced a temporary ban on hosepipes and sprinklers in the English regions of Kent and Sussex following high temperatures and rising demand for drinking water.

The Met Office also said a marine heatwave affecting the North Atlantic had played an underlying role in raising land temperatures in Britain and said rainfall during June had been 68% of its average level.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s climate policies have come under the microscope recently following the scathing resignation of his international environment minister and a critical report from the country’s climate advisers.

Sunak said his government was a world leader on emissions reduction, had an environment improvement plan and that Britain played an important role globally having brokered a landmark climate deal in 2021.

Greenpeace said the Met Office report showed the need for radical action.

“We can’t tackle this huge threat without a massive government effort to fix our energy-wasting homes, turbocharge renewables, upgrade our power grid and clean up our transport sector,” said Mel Evans, Greenpeace UK’s head of climate.

(Reporting by Farouq Suleiman; editing by William James and Susan Fenton)