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Anger mounts against inaction on climate change and heatwave emergency

ENVIRONMENTAL campaigners and trade unions hit out at the failure to protect the public from the heatwave yesterday, as temperatures are expected to continue to soar today.

Activists from Doctors for Extinction Rebellion (XR) cracked eight panels of glass at financial services giant and investment bank JP Morgan’s offices in Canary Wharf yesterday, in response to the first level-four national emergency heat alert.

Temperatures are predicted to reach 40°C today and tomorrow.

JP Morgan was targeted by Doctors for XR due to its funding of fossil fuels, having poured $394.2 billion (£332bn) into the sector since the Paris Climate Agreement in 2016.

Protesters included two GPs, a child and adolescent mental health specialist, a gynaecologist, a consultant psychiatrist and a dementia nurse.

The medics placed stickers on the windows reading “in case of medical climate emergency break glass” before carefully cracking the panes of glass near the entrance to the building.

All six health professionals were arrested by police following the action.

Dr Patrick Hart, who took part in the action, said: “Fossil fuels are destroying our future, but that can’t happen without financial backing.

“The people in this building know that funding the fossil fuel industry is funding the destruction of our future.

“When a patient gets sick, the first thing you do is stop the harm. There is no point in administering an antidote to a patient while someone is still pumping poison into their body.”

Dr Hart said that the choices being made at JP Morgan were creating life-threatening conditions for everyone, “conditions that I cannot treat.”

Meanwhile, unions are stepping up calls to give workers legal protection against the heat.

The GMB said the maximum temperature for work should be set at 25°C, saying employers should allow flexible working and travel arrangements, give staff extra breaks and allow them to wear cooler clothes.

GMB health and safety officer Lynsey Mann said: “Bosses need to do everything possible to keep workplaces cool and, more importantly, safe.

“Ultimately, there needs to be a legal maximum working temperature in the same way we have a legal minimum working temperature, and it is in employers’ interests — workers who are overheating aren’t going to be at their best.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady added: “We all love it when the sun comes out, but working in sweltering conditions in a baking shop or stifling office can be unbearable and dangerous.

“Indoor workplaces should be kept cool, with relaxed dress codes and flexible working to make use of the coolest hours of the day.

“Bosses must make sure outdoor workers are protected with regular breaks, lots of fluids, plenty of sunscreen and the right protective clothing.”

College of Paramedics chief executive Tracy Nicholls said the “ferocious heat” expected over the next few days could result in people dying.

Her comments were made after Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said people should take precautions ahead of the record-breaking temperatures but added that they should be resilient enough to “enjoy the sunshine.”

And Prime Minister Boris Johnson failed to attend a Cobra meeting on Saturday despite warnings from the UK Health Security Agency and Met Office that thousands could die from the heat.

He instead stayed at his Chequers country retreat where he held a party for his supporters yesterday.

It comes as the chairman of the NHS Confederation said hospitals are going to be “really, really pushed” over the next few days.

Lord Victor Adebowale said the NHS “will cope,” but added that “coping isn’t good enough.”

Labour has today set out a new plan to boost Britain’s resilience and preparedness for future national emergencies.

Shadow paymaster general Fleur Anderson said: “The PM is partying while Britain boils, and his zombie Cabinet are too distracted with Tory infighting to do their jobs.

“They are showing they can’t be trusted with resilience preparation, they have failed to learn from the pandemic, and they are simply not ready for a whole-system emergency.

“We need a government that is taking serious action to tackle climate change, adapt our infrastructure, and keep workers safe in this warming world.”


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