UK hit its highest ever temperature of 40 degrees Celsius on Tuesday, according to preliminary Met Office statistics, which forecasts much hotter weather from a heatwave that has already damaged airport runways and train lines.

The temperature was set before midday at Charlwood, near Gatwick Airport in southern England, breaking the previous high of 38.7 degrees Celsius set in 2019. Forecasts indicate that it will continue to rise during the day.

The Met Office tweeted, “If confirmed this will be the highest temperature ever recorded in the UK,” Before any record temperature becomes official, the forecaster must confirm the equipment used to record it.

Britain, which often struggle to keep vital transportation systems running in excessive heat or snow, has declared a “national emergency” due to the unusual temperatures.

After at least two runways showed indications of damage and some railway tracks crumbled, Transport Minister Grant Shapps warned it would be several years before Britain’s infrastructure could be adequately upgraded to deal with higher temperatures.

“We’ve seen a considerable amount of travel disruption,” he told the BBC. “Infrastructure, much of which was built from the Victorian times, just wasn’t built to withstand this type of temperature.”

The onset of a scorching summer that caused wildfires throughout Europe before making its way to Britain has focused attention on “net zero” commitments made by politicians hoping to succeed Boris Johnson as prime minister.

After Johnson championed the transition to net zero emissions when Britain hosted the United Nations COP26 meeting in 2021, several of the contenders to succeed him have seemed more ambivalent and prioritized other concerns confronting the nation.

One candidate, Kemi Badenoch, said that she believed in reducing carbon emissions but not at the expense of the economy.

Former Labour Party leader Ed Miliband, who heads the opposition party’s response to climate change, expressed concern about the political discourse.

“You’ve got candidates who seem to be falling over each other, not to run towards net zero commitments, but to run away from them,” he told BBC Radio.

Source: Reuters

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