British summers could become more than five degrees hotter on average over the next 50 years, a major report will warn today.
The UK Climate Projections 2018 report will say that the heatwave conditions experienced across Britain this year could become the norm.
By 2070 average summer temperatures could have climbed by five degrees, leaving Britain at increased risk of water shortages and grassland fires, while winters will also rise by around four degrees.
At a speech launching the report at London’s Science Museum today, Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, will call for urgent action to tackle the warming climate, protect coastal areas from sea level rise, and make Britain’s transport and power infrastructure more resilient.
“It is clear that the planet and its weather patterns are changing before our eyes. We know, more than ever before, the urgency of acting,” Mr Gove is expected to say.
“These projections will give us an invaluable tool to assess the nature and scale of the challenge we face and take decisions accordingly.
“The more we know, the greater our ability to shape events for the better - but also the heavier the responsibility to act.
“It is only by heeding scientific warnings more keenly than ever before that we can safeguard our planet and our species’ survival.”
The Environment Secretary will also set out how the government intends to tackle excessive consumption of water.
The UK is already investing a record £2.6billion in flood defences to protect 300,000 homes from flooding by 2021, and earlier this year Mr Gove said water companies must do more to stop leaks.
However environmental charities warned that Britain was already experiencing the impact of climate change, and said the government was failing to stop airport expansion, road building or fracking.
Friends of the Earth said that coastal communities, such as Happisburgh in Norfok, had already seen 35 homes claimed by cliff erosion in the past decade.
The charity said local campaigners had repeatedly called for government assistance, but been refused help or compensation.
Campaigners also warned that devastating flooding which left the cities of York and Leeds underwater in 2015, or wildfires on Saddleworth Moor in Manchester this summer, showed that climate change was already having a devastating impact.
Emi Murphy, climate change campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “The human cost of climate change, both in England and around the world, is already devastating. It’s the most vulnerable communities paying the highest price, while the UK government fails to commit to the policies needed to avoid climate chaos.
“The Climate Change Act was a truly remarkable political achievement that has driven cuts in UK emissions. But dire warnings from scientists demonstrate how further and faster action is essential to prevent complete climate breakdown.
“Instead, with its relentless pursuit of fracking, airport expansion, and road building, our government is failing us on climate change.”
Campaigners are urging the government to double the area of forested land to tackle carbon pollution, bring forward the date for phasing out the sale of petrol and diesel cars to 2030, and move to high quality public transport.