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Climate change: UK braces for record-high temperatures amid energy crunch

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Yahoo Finance Live anchors discuss the European heatwave.

Video Transcript

AKIKO FUJITA: And a heatwave sweeping across Europe, as the UK bracing for scorching temperatures this week. The highest forecast temperature to reach about 104 degrees Fahrenheit. And you see it compared against the highest on record, right now 102. We're talking 104, but some areas in the UK forecast to go up to 106. Brian, we're talking about this in the context of what's been playing out in Europe, but let's just focus in on the UK first.

Obviously, this is a weather story, dangerous conditions. Just 3% of the population reportedly has air conditioning. We're talking about speed restrictions being placed on trains because there are concerns that heat could lead to the tracks buckling as well. So a really serious situation that's happening. But also record heatwave across Europe at a time we're already talking about an energy crunch.

BRIAN CHEUNG: Yeah, and, you know, I mean, from a personal level, we just showed that statistic about only about 3% of homes in the United Kingdom having air conditioning. They are not used to these types of temperatures. And for what it's worth, we have to remember that it's not just hot temperatures in the United Kingdom today, but the story of a very warm summer in the United-- or, rather, in Europe has already led to wildfires in France, Portugal, and Spain.

And for those of our viewers who are wondering why are we leading off a business show talking about all of this, well, first of all, this has massive energy implications, right? It's going to cost a lot more to get those homes air conditioned than the ones that are trying to look for cooling here. And then secondly, this is a region that is already at risk of recession with the economic crisis coming out linked to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. So you have wildfires disrupting a lot of things in these major drivers of the euro economy, you do wonder about how this is going to impact the global picture here.

AKIKO FUJITA: Well, there's the larger conversation that's happening in the energy context, which is you've got a shortage of oil and gas. You've got one side talking about that. The other side's saying, well, their green transition needs to happen. And then here we're looking at the effects of climate change. No matter how you slice it, these are temperatures we have not seen in Europe before.

And I thought it was interesting IEA's Executive Director Fatih Birol tweeting out earlier today, "The heatwave in Europe reminds us that air conditioning is a key driver of the rise in electricity demand in buildings worldwide." He says, "With the temperatures continuing to rise, electricity demand could grow by up to 40% by 2030." And of course, we're talking about the challenges in the summer. Waiting six months from now is still going to be the energy crunch come winter.

BRIAN CHEUNG: Yeah. And when we talk about the energy transition, I mean, we have to think about the adverse transition that has to take place in the absence of action as well, which is homes having to adapt to what could be, you know, more persistent type of hotter climates in the summer in the United Kingdom.

You imagine that 3% statistic that we showed, that might increase, which means that the average household expenditure on energy is going to increase as these types of issues do end up becoming a permanent story year after year after year. So definitely worth watching. And you're seeing crazy headlines, too, as well. Sky News apparently reporting that the largest air base in the United Kingdom has been stopped because the runway has melted. So, I mean, these are really--

AKIKO FUJITA: I mean, it's--

BRIAN CHEUNG: --really high temperatures they're not prepared for.

AKIKO FUJITA: --a frightening scene--

BRIAN CHEUNG: Certainly.

AKIKO FUJITA: --to say the least. And obviously, we haven't even gotten to the number of deaths that have been reported. A little levity here.

BRIAN CHEUNG: Right, right. Well, again, AC not very well known, at least in the UK.