MPs raise alarm over ‘silent killer’ of heatwaves

MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has raised their concerns over the UK government’s lack of preparedness of the “silent killer” of heatwaves, urging it to commit to the Global Cooling Pledge signed at COP28.

It warns that heatwaves could claim up to 10,000 lives annually in the UK without concerted action, with the most vulnerable at greatest risk.

EAC chair MP Philip Dunne said addressing heatwave risks are “simply a no-brainer”, with high temperatures costing the UK economy £60 billion per year.

“There are a number of relatively simple ways to mitigate overheating risk, such as installing shutters, increasing the size of green spaces and using reflective paint on roofs,” he added.

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Some of these measures to reduce overheating risk could reduce heat mortality by around 40% but Dunne said the measures aren’t being rolled out at scale.

“There is now a real opportunity to focus on these measures in tandem with improving the energy efficiency of the country’s homes in a new national retrofit programme.”

The committee advise the national retrofit programme should delivered by local authorities, supported by long term funding, focusing on insulation and ventilation, as well as passive measures, above active cooling mechanisms.

It also needs to address concerns of a “net zero tradespeople crisis” and said that by 2030 there will be a shortfall of 250,000 people in suitable roles.

“Clear collaboration between government departments and local authorities is necessary, supported by a clear messaging campaign and a pipeline of funding and skilled retrofitters to undertake the work needed,” Dunne added.

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