Submission to the inquiry by the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee on ‘Heatwaves: Adapting to Climate Change’

This submission to the Environmental Audit Committee’s inquiry on ‘Heatwaves: Adapting to Climate Change’ focuses on the importance of communicating with the public to raise awareness of the increasing incidence of heatwaves as a result of climate change so that the public can take steps to manage the risks. Current levels of communication, the submission asserts, appear inadequate and should be improved.

Key points include:

  • There is no up-to-date analysis of the extent to which the UK public is aware of the risks of heatwaves and how those risks are changing as a result of global warming.
  • The Committee on Climate Change has warned that the public may not be taking measures to manage the rising risks of heatwaves because people wrongly believe that the incidence has been decreasing.
  • The Government has accepted the need for more public awareness, but there is little evidence that it is increasing activities to communicate the rising risks of heatwaves, or to monitor public awareness.
  • The Environment Agency does not communicate to the public about the risks of climate change. Public Health England appears to rely primarily on the operation of the heat-health watch system, together with the Met Office, to communicate with the public about heatwaves.
  • The Met Office does not consider that its remit includes communication with the public about climate change. It is not clear if measures to improve the provision of knowledge on the Met Office website, as suggested in late 2017, are going ahead.