Croydon among areas worst hit by deadly climate change

Croydon is one of the areas at highest risk of being worst affected by the extreme heat, according to research conducted at the University of Manchester for Friends of the Earth.

A national emergency has been declared in “Blowtorch Britain”, after a Red warning for extreme heat was issued for the first time, as the Met Office forecast temperatures could hit 40C – or 104F – in London and the south-east today and tomorrow. If the record-breaking temperatures are reached during the course of today, those worst-hit parts of the country will actually be warmer than the Saharan Desert.

The Met Office’s highest warning means that there is a risk to life.

At midday today, according to Met Office figures, the temperature in Croydon had reached 33C, and was expected to edge up higher still during the afternoon.

And as people prepare for a second week of the heatwave, with the council issuing advice on how to stay cool and healthy, and also to keep a check on elderly and vulnerable neighbours, Croydon has been identified as one of the 30 areas in England most vulnerable to the dangerous health impacts of soaring temperatures.

Croydon and many of the other “at risk” areas have a larger proportion of older people and children, while other risk-increasing aspects includ a lack green space to shelter from the heat, and housing that’s susceptible to overheating, such as high-rise buildings and mobile homes.

Scorchio: how one of today’s daily newspapers approached the heatwave

Croydon was ranked 17th on the vulnerable list by the Manchest researchers, with 60 “at risk” neighbourhoods identified.

According to the Croydon Climate Action group, health-threatening heatwaves are likely to become more intense due to climate change, putting many more people at risk from dangerous summer temperatures.

Hot weather can place particular strain on the heart and lungs, meaning that the majority of serious illness and deaths caused by extreme heat are respiratory and cardiovascular. Older people, those with pre-existing health conditions and young children, are especially at risk.

In all of the scenarios looked at by the University of Manchester study for Friends of the Earth, the communities set to be most affected by global heating are those with below average carbon footprints – those less responsible for the climate crisis.

The research also found that people of colour are four times more likely to live in areas at high risk of dangerous levels of heat.

The study’s key findings include:

  • Even if the world stays on track to meet the global goal to limit warming to 1.5°C, more than 3,000 of the most vulnerable neighbourhoods – more than 6million people – will regularly be exposed to “very hot weather” of 27.5°C for five or more days during the summer months. If temperatures rise by 3°C, then the same areas will be regularly exposed to dangerously hot temperatures of over 30°C.
  • Overall, nearly half (48%) of neighbourhoods – or 28million people – in England will be exposed to “very hot weather” at 1.5°C of warming.
  • Global temperature rise of 3°C would put 50% of neighbourhoods – or 30million people – at risk of “dangerously hot weather” where temperatures hit 30°C or more for five or more days during summer.

Friends of the Earth is calling for the 3,000 most vulnerable neighbourhoods to be prioritised for publicly-funded adaptation projects and greater efforts to reduce planet-heating greenhouse gases.

“Extreme heatwaves and health alerts are likely to become more frequent and more severe as climate change takes hold, putting children, older people and those with existing health conditions at most risk,” said Connie Muir, of Croydon Climate Action.

“If we want to avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis, we must accelerate plans to slash the carbon emissions that are heating up our planet.

England’s heatwave league table: Croydon figures among the areas worst hit by the climate crisis

“More must also be done to help our communities adapt to a warming world, through better housing, greener spaces and an increase in street trees.”

Global temperatures are already 1.1°C above pre-industrial levels. Under the Paris Agreement adopted in 2015, governments have agreed to limit warming to 1.5°C to avoid catastrophic climate change.

According to estimates based on current climate pledges, the world is heading towards 2.4°C of warming, but even these commitments are not being met.

The UK government’s advisory body, the Committee on Climate Change, estimates that only two-fifths of the policies in its Net Zero Strategy are credible.

Read more: The NHS’s ‘top tips’ for families to stay safe in the heatwave
Read more: National emergency with temperatures set to rise to 40C

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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10 Responses to Croydon among areas worst hit by deadly climate change

  1. I have an FOI in regarding what the council is doing to mitigate the negative effects of “heat islands”.

    There are references to heat islands in the Purley Way Masterplan and in the plans for College Green that got nowhere, but which have been re-adopted by the incoming Mayor.

    The amount of heat emanating from the tarmac’d front of Fairfield Halls where trees were removed by the previous Labour council will be very unpleasant these next two days.

    • Excellent point. Thanks. Croydon town centre buildings are concrete and glass which reflect heat – that might keep the occupants cooler but doesn’t help the atmospheric temperature. I understand that the new types of glass don’t create too much of a greenhouse effect for the occupants btw.

  2. Peter Underwood says:

    The people who have contributed least to the problem are the ones who suffer the most – this is true locally and globally. Those who don’t drive, don’t fly, and can’t afford wasteful living are hit the hardest. Sadly those who could afford to make a difference are still fighting to prevent any action that would mean changing their lifestyles – even if they would make it better for everyeon in the long run.

    For the next few days we need to act sensibly so we don’t fall victim to the heat and add to the pressures on our underfunded NHS. We also need to keep an eye out for those more vulnerable to make sure they are OK – this can be older people, those with existing health conditions, and those who cannot escape the heat so easily because they are homeless or living in poor quality homes.

    For the longer term, we have got to stop electing politicians who won’t act on the climate emergency. We don’t need denial or excuses – we need action now!

  3. Nice try to warn of the Croydon Apocalypse, but the figures show that we’re in the same place, give or take a few fractions, as every other London borough.

  4. Lewis White says:

    A timely article—and thanks for the insights from Andrew and Peter above.
    A total re-think and re-action is needed from politicians and other decision makers , world wide–and every one ous to do small things that will add up to stop the relentless heating process.

    While Russians and sypathisers are torching crops in Ukraine–an obscenity to add to all the others- other parts of Europe are burning natutrally

    It won’t be long now before we are having forest fires here too, as well as the heathland fires we get on places like Banstead Downs every few years.

    How to recduce goabl warning?
    Well, how about the automatic lights on cars being equipped with sensors to stip them turning on in sunlight. The idea came from Scandinavia where it is dark in Winter! A safety measure that creates unnecessary driver stress summer, with all that dazzle, plus the heat of all those millions of headlamps must add to a helluva lot of heat. A classic good thing that has bad side effects.

    Stop manufacturers fitting stand-by lights to tellies, and wifi boxes. The heat chucked off, and electricity consumed–in total– is bonkers. The heat inside a room shed by such items is signigficant. Turn it off!

    What about the outdoors , in urban Croydon? Well, I am not surprised that Croydon areas , like the streets of West Croydon, too often without any street trees, and paved in tarmac, both roads and footways, and with “front ex-gardens” now car bays with wall-to-wall bock paving, are infernoes.Alll that dark coloured surfacing makes the stretes like gigantic storage radiators. Sucking up heat in the morniong, and chucking it out all afternoon and night.

    Pale coloured pavings, of buff and white, don’t heat up to egg frying, sleep stopping night time temperatures. We need less dark charcoal, more light coloured pavings and trees for shade.

    The ground below our footways are full of cables and pipes which stop trees being planted.
    We need to divert the shallow ones in the top metre, to create soil areas big enough for trees to be planted every 30 metres or so. That would improve air quality, taking out airborne dust, as well as cooling the air and adding moisture to revive the tired air.

    What about indoors?. Buildings sit on top of a cool zone of soil. Traditional arab architecture sucks cool aerea upwards frpom the cool basement areas, upwards through the rooms, and through vents, taking the heat out. Without planet killing air-con.

    Shady areas round the back of shops are often naturally cool as they are sunless. Have you got a hot shop? It is worth opening the back door and front door, and let the breeze come through and cool your shop down!

    Do people actually care enough about their children’s future, and their children’s futures, to pay a little bit of money to allow such design changes to come to fruition ?

    Can they adopt natural and taditional methods of cooling in their houses and flats, such as shutters with vents on the outside, and curtains inside. Can they remember to open windows when there is cool air to admit, or close them and pull the curtains to keep out the sun?

    Can politicians see beyond their 5 year term of office?

    Can we redesign our cities, in small but significant ways, to allow people free access both to natural daylight and health-giving sunshine in Winter, and also to shade (with trees and covered walkways) and cooling breezes in Summer?

    To achieve this, It will take intelligent designers– of our indoor and outddor environments- inlcuding a new breed of “Green” engineers, architects and urban planners, and people who already are doing a lot–Landscape architects, Arboricuturalists, and Horticuralists, and the technical people of numerous disciplines– to work together.

    Plus, a receptive public who care .

    On both of the latter, I have quite a lot of hope.

    But not a huge amoubt of faith in politicians and vested interest business.

    Inside Croydon readers will have their own views, and own insights into what actions, small and large, would help temper, slow and halt this global warming.

    Or it’s going to get to the stage of water wars, food wars, and mass migration over continental boundaries. Not a nice prospect.

  5. combyne says:

    Air Con contributes to local heating.

    30 years ago you did not see the sea of machines on the tops of buildings extracting heat from within.

    BTW Friends of the Earth would not have been unbiased in their questioning and research.

    A question for the local council: where is your active tree planting

    Trees not only give shade for everyone, but also reduce pollution and ambient temperature.

    Reading an article this morning about Paris after the 2003 heatwave brought this home to me.

  6. Hazel swain says:

    too many people, too much concrete and glass in the town centre and yet still they build

  7. Ian Kierans says:

    A little unpopular reality check here.

    In 1960 35% of the population lived in urban areas and the rest in rural areas.
    In 2022 56% of the population lived in urban areas and the rest in rural areas.

    To add a bit of perspective here – 1962 the population of the World was 3.15billion at the end of the baby boom. (ha false boom) – today that figure is 7.79billion (real baby boom)

    Consider you have populations that were mainly vegetarian now becoming more used to meat and higher levels of fish consumption. Those animals being bred for food require land to grow their food (grass) and lots of tree’s and forest areas are razed to enable growth. So less removal of CO2 and less production of Oxygen.
    Consider the protein consumption of a human at 200g a day – even with a reduction to 140g we are still eating 50kg a year. A lamb will give you maybe 15kg at a push a cow maybe 420 – 450 kg per 1000kg alive. So we are looking at 7.7 billion kilos of protein a week or the farmyard equivalent of 18.5 million cows every week.

    When you have done all the math on land requirements for animals and vegetable and fish farms or battery farmed fowl you begin to realise that free range is expensive in more ways than cash all the options for saving are the equivalent of saving a penny and losing a million quid.

    9% of the world population engaging in measures or reducing carbon footprint is stopping nothing and allowing the rest to consume more anyway as they are not engaging in the reduction – quite the opposite as their demand continues to outpace our cuts and changes and a lot quicker as the areas become more industrialised.

    Now you realise that the issue is not Climate change – the issue is population and cultural change or control.

    But as one of the 09% trying to do my bit I will not stop doing so as this maybe is what in the end will help change the rest of the world – hopefully while there is still a world.

  8. Lewis White says:

    Every small action by people to reduce their energy coinsumption, and green their homes and gardens will add up, and might just stop the glaciers and ice sheets melting, just as all the rain drops in the Pacific add up to an Ocean of water.

    If the Himalayan glaciers melt, God help the people of India, Pakistan,and Bangladesh. Some will die of thirst, as the Ganges and Indus dry up, while others will drown as the sea levels rise over their low -lying island homes.

    If the Alpine glaciers melt, the Rhine will shrink. no more water transport. Water rationing in Northern Italy and even Switzerland.

    It’s all pretty serious.

    Human beings are dangerously ostrich-like when it comes to staring reality in the face.

    Let’s pray for a new breed of human Ostrich–one with a brain that doesn’t bury its head in the sand. It wil be far too hot to do that.

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