• Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

Fewer people on the move in Oxford as they sheltered from recent heatwave

Byoxfordnewspaper

Jul 31, 2022

Fewer people were on the move in Oxford as they took precautions during the peak of the recent heatwave, new figures show.

The UK recorded historic temperatures on July 18 and 19, with some areas topping 40C for the first time, as the Met Office issued a red risk-to-life heat warning in certain areas of the country.

An amber alert was also in place for much of England, Wales and southern Scotland.

The heatwave caused major disruption to travel and fires erupted around the country, with climate charities warning extreme temperatures will become more frequent and severe as the climate crisis worsens.

On the hottest day, people in Oxford seemingly took their own precautions, with footfall on public transport across the area down compared to the week before.

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Figures from Google, which uses location data from phones and other personal devices to track trends in people's movement in different areas of their daily lives, show activity on public transport on Tuesday July 19 was 17.4% below the week before.

On Monday July 18, the other day Met Office warnings were issued for, footfall was also 11.8% down on the previous week.

Across the UK, public transport usage was 9.1% lower on Monday and 13.2% down on Tuesday.

Most places in England saw a similar pattern, with the majority of the areas bucking the trend located in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Climate charity Friends of the Earth said many people felt "trapped in stiflingly hot homes that are poorly designed to keep out the summer heat" and warned that extreme weather is likely to become more common because of the climate crisis.

"The Government must do far more to future-proof our homes, communities and infrastructure – as well as cutting the emissions that are causing this crisis," added Mike Childs, head of policy at the charity.

"This should include a nationwide programme to upgrade our homes to enable them to stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter, more urban tree-planting to create cooling shade and the provision of air-conditioned community centres to enable the elderly to get some respite from the worst of the heat.

A spokesperson for the UK Government said it is "taking robust action to prepare for the challenges of climate change".

"We are working to ensure our homes are fit for the future and have already committed to considering overheating and adaption when developing our future policies to future-proof our housing stock," they added.

Workplace activity around the country remained roughly the same during the hot weather, but residential footfall doubled on Monday July 18 and more than tripled on Tuesday July 19 compared to a week earlier.

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In Oxford, time spent in residential areas on Tuesday increased by 11.3%.

Climate change thinktank the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy said it is unknown whether people stayed at home due to the dangers of the heat or the disruption caused to public transport and daily life, but that employees and employers will have to adapt in the future.

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