The UK has experienced rapidly growing temperatures through 2022, continuing and accelerating a trend that has been observed throughout the 21st century.

This year saw an extraordinary heatwave rip through the UK, as the nation broke new ground by recording 40 degrees Celsius for the first ever time.

But what’s causing these heatwaves and are they here to stay, and is now the time for businesses to make provisions and start to adapt?

Exploring the Recent UK Heatwave

Between July 18th and 19th, the UK recorded a series of record high temperatures, beating the record of 35.9 degrees Celsius previously recorded at Heathrow Airport several years ago.

This culminated with the Lincolnshire village of Coningsby recording a record high UK temperature of 40.3 degrees Celsius, with experts suggesting that this eventuality has been made 10-times more likely as a result of climate change.

According to a rapid attribution study by a team of scientists from eight countries at the World Weather Attribution (WWA) initiative, such temperatures were unprecedented on these shores, while as many as 844 people may have died either directly or indirectly as a result of the excessive heat.

Worryingly, the team also found that the temperatures on July 18th and 19th were approximately 4 degrees Celsius higher than they would have been prior to 1850 (and before the Industrial Revolution), with this marked increase largely the result of climate change.

Interestingly, this trend has been observed across mainland Europe during the same period too, with this region having experienced three major heatwaves to date this year so far. This has seen temperatures peak above 47 degrees Celsius in parts of Spain, while drought experiences have been experienced in numerous locations.

The consistent rise in temperatures (both this year and over the course of the last 20 year in particular) suggests that the trend is here to stay, with the prospect of 40-degree Celsius heat becoming more likely and prominent over time.

This is undoubtedly being heavily influenced by climate change, with various forecasting simulations highlights that even higher temperatures are possible in the current climate and global conditions.

Why Businesses Must React

Ultimately, businesses need to respond to this crisis sooner rather than later, and there are several key reasons for this.

On a practical level, businesses will have to focus on their environment, social and governance strategies in order to minimise the operational impact.

Certainly, firms need to adjust their efforts and embrace sustainability to cope with the growing scarcity of resources, which is continuing to drive increased costs and demand continues to rise. Currently, the energy and consumer industries are reporting the greatest impacts, as we can see through the soaring energy prices on these shores.

Businesses also need to understand and comply with changing regulatory guidance, such as the rules laid out during COP26. More stringent measures are also likely to be introduced in line with the government’s Net Zero policy, and it’s important to keep abreast of these going forward.

By failing to react to these climate change challenges, it’s also fair to say that businesses risk considerable reputational damage. After all, consumers are increasingly eco-savvy and likely to buy from sustainable brands, while looking negatively at those who fail to take environmental concerns seriously.