London to be ‘as hot as Barcelona’ by 2050

New study to demystify climate change predicts huge rise in global heating

London skyline
(Image credit: 2013 AFP)

London will be as hot as Barcelona in 30 years, according to a study on the expected impacts of the climate crisis.

The report, which attempts to demystify climate change, also predicts that by 2050 Edinburgh will feel like Paris, Leeds will resemble Melbourne and Moscow will be like Sofia.

Around a fifth of cities, including Jakarta, Singapore, Yangon and Kuala Lumpur, will experience weather conditions currently not seen in any major cities in the world.

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Global heating will rise by as much as 3.5C in European cities in summer and 4.7C in winter, according to the study of 520 major cities published in the journal Plos One.

The Guardian warns that if warmer temperatures in the UK seem “enticing”, the change “could be accompanied by severe drought”.

The Times, too, says that “Mediterranean summers will come at a cost”, pointing out that heatwaves in Barcelona have forced the city “to spend millions of euros on importing drinking water”.

Jean-Francois Bastin, lead author of the research paper, said it aims to “help people visualise the impact of climate change in their own city, within their lifetime”.

He adds: “History has repeatedly shown us that data and facts alone do not inspire humans to change their beliefs or act.”

Professor Mike Lockwood, from the University of Reading, said: “Bringing Barcelona's climate to London sounds like it could be a good thing - if you don't suffer from asthma or have a heart condition, that is - except London clay shrinks and is brittle if it gets too dry and then swells and expands when very wet.”

He adds: “As ever, there is destructive and unforeseen devil in the details of climate change.”

Also lining up to put global warming in context is Richard Betts, a professor of climate impacts at Exeter University and head of the climate impacts strategic area at the Met Office Hadley Centre.

Speaking of the unprecedented conditions forecast for cities such as Kuala Lumpur, he says: “Without the benefit of knowing that the new climate conditions are already liveable somewhere in the world, it is harder to know whether people will be able to adapt and stay in these cities, or whether they will eventually look to move elsewhere.”

In a separate development, the UK’s Committee on Climate Change published a report yesterday saying the government was completely unprepared for the likely repercussions of the climate crisis. Its chairman, Lord Deben, said: “The whole thing is run by the government like a Dad’s Army. We can’t possibly go on with this ramshackle system; it doesn’t begin to face the issues. It is a real threat to the population.”

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