Welcome to Wednesday’s Early Edition from i.
As anyone living through it can attest to, last year was Britain’s hottest on record. Temperatures broke 40C for the first time, residents in the east London village of Wennington faced ‘apocalyptic scenes’ and elsewhere, more than 25,000 wildfires raged. In December, a Met Office study showed human-induced climate change made the UK’s record-breaking annual temperature around 160 times more likely. Environmental groups and experts have been urging greater action for years. And today, a report comes out that shows just how badly prepared the country is for the rapidly changing climate. Ministers have “shown a striking lack of preparation”, the Climate Change Committee, which advises the Government on its climate policy said. There has been a “lost decade” on action. What does it mean – and what are they warning the impacts will be? We’ll take a look after the headlines.
Today’s news, and why it matters
Migrants will be housed at two air force bases in a bid to cut down on the use of hotels and deter people from crossing the Channel on small boats, the immigration minister is expected to announce today. RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire, the former home of the Dambusters and Red Arrows, and RAF Wethersfield in Essex are expected to be among the accommodation sites for asylum seekers, despite local opposition.
TV presenter and comedian Paul O’Grady, also known for his drag queen persona Lily Savage, has died at the age of 67, his partner said in the early hours of this morning. “It is with great sadness that I inform you that Paul has passed away unexpectedly but peacefully yesterday evening,” Andre Portasio said in a statement.
Gary Lineker has won a £4.9m tax battle with HMRC in a case which could encourage other star presenters to challenge tax claims. Jonathan Shalit, a leading talent agent, welcomed the verdict on Lineker’s tax affairs and said “some talent has been hunted down by the HRMC with vitriol”. HMRC is considering appealing the decision.
The company behind the oil leak into Poole Harbour has a history of at least three pollution incidents spanning ten years, i can reveal. A major incident was declared on Sunday when 200 barrels of reservoir fluid, including oil, flooded into the world’s second largest natural harbour. Local councillor Chris Rigby told i: “This is unacceptable. Wytch Farm has been an accident waiting to happen for years.”
The UK’s biggest banks are refusing to commit to passing on the recent interest rate increases to savers, despite making bumper profits, i can reveal. The six largest financial firms in the country, when asked, were unable to confirm they would pass on last week’s rate rise of 0.25 percentage points. Instead they said they would keep their rates “under review”.
Two former BBC bosses have suggested the broadcaster’s chair Richard Sharp should not be permitted to remain in his role amid questions over his appointment under Boris Johnson. Lord Patten said it was “unfortunate” that Mr Sharp had become “microphone-shy” and is no longer “out there batting for the BBC” as he fights for his job.
Kate Forbes is to leave the Scottish Government after turning down a job in Humza Yousaf’s new-look administration that one of her supporters described as an “insult”. The Finance Secretary is understood to have been offered a demotion to the rural affairs brief.
Three key issues Britain needs to tackle on climate change:
Food supplies: With nearly half of all food consumed in Britain being imported, the country is particularly vulnerable to weather patterns elsewhere in the world. This was made clear earlier in the year, with the tomato (and other vegetable) shortages. The CCC recommended the government make it a requirement of law for large food sector companies to assess the climate risks to their supply chains. The report also warned that the trade deals signed by the UK with Australia and New Zealand could undermine the UK’s food security by allowing farmers to be undercut by meat produced under less stringent environmental regulations.
Mobile phones and internet: As well as vulnerabilities in the food supply, the report warned the UK’s telecoms industry was unprepared for climate change. Major storms, such as 2021’s Storm Arwen, have knocked power from hundreds of thousands of homes. The committee said “there was no visible plan by the industry or government, to manage long-term risk”. Dr Richard Millar, of the Climate Change Committee said localised problems such as flooding of electrical substations and nationwide ones such as Britain’s offshore wind being becalmed, could lead to a loss of power for data servers and mobile networks. Matt Evans, director of Markets at techUK, told the BBC the report showed there needed to be better collaboration across industry and government to help avert crises.
Heat-proofing: The damage that can be caused by severe heat was shown devastatingly last year by the fires that spread in Wennington. But heatwaves can cause myriad problems to homes, and businesses, as well as big public services. The CCC pointed to the failure of two data centres at Barts Hospital Trust, London’s largest, during the 2022 heatwave. The two systems were meant to act as backups for each other, but instead three major hospitals in London lost access to their IT systems and were forced to rely on paper. While hospitals are currently monitored for overheating, other medical settings such as GP surgeries and care homes are not. The report said there was a lack of both policy and funding to address climate risks in existing healthcare buildings. Professor Chris Hilson, director of the Centre for Climate and Justice at the University of Reading, said: “With homes overheating in summer heatwaves, for example, there is little point spending money on this without at the same time tackling poor insulation and energy efficiency to cope with cold winter temperatures.” You can read the full report on the CCC’s findings here.
Around the world
Innovations in artificial intelligence have the potential to affect up to 300 million jobs but there is still “significant uncertainty” about the promise of the technology, a new report from Goldman Sachs concludes. Find out which sectors are most at risk, here.
The 28-year-old who killed six people, including three children aged 9, at a school in Nashville, had bought seven guns legally and had hidden them at home. Investigators said the suspect’s parents did not realise the weapons were concealed in their home.
Barack Obama suggested Rupert Murdoch’s media empire has led to greater polarisation through news designed to “make people angry and resentful”. Speaking in Sydney on Tuesday, the former US president said: “There’s one other factor that’s led to this polarisation. This is global, this is not unique to the United States, and that is the shifts in the media and the story that is told to people. And there’s a guy you may be familiar with, first name Rupert, who was responsible for a lot of this.”
A Moscow festival based around beloved cartoon characters the Moomins has been cancelled after the author’s estate threatened legal action. The Spring Moomin Festival was due to take place this week in one of Moscow’s largest shopping centres. But the event was pulled after the Russian distributor of Moomin material reported that the rights holders would not renew their licence “due to what is happening in the world”.
Watch out for…
Humza Yousaf, who will be legally sworn in as Scotland’s sixth First Minister today.
Thoughts for the day
My question for Suella Braverman is if kids can’t loiter in a park, what can they do? asks Jordan Tyldesley.
If Jeremy Corbyn stands as an independent, Keir Starmer will feel the full force of his mistake. The decision is bizarre and counterproductive, argues Andrew Fisher.
After years of body positivity, why we should be worried about the return of size zero, writes Esther Walker.
‘Theatre will only survive if it stays affordable’. Arthur Darvill, who’s in the running for an Olivier Award, talks to Alice Saville about reimagining the classic musical, Doctor Who and ticket prices.
The Big Read
How the wealthy dodge taxes – and how our ‘rigged’ system helps them do it legally. The ‘Rebel Accountant’ explains to Rob Hastings our unfair tax system should anger us more than avoidance schemes.
England won’t win the Ashes if Ben Stokes is injured, Steve Harmison tells Chris Stocks.
Something to brighten your day
A man armed with nothing more than a budget metal detector has unearthed a 4.6kg rock containing gold worth more than £130,000. The rare find occured on Victoria’s historic goldfields in Australia. Darren Kamp, who valued and bought the nugget, told the BBC the unnamed man wanted to spend the money on his family: “He said to me, ‘Oh the wife will be happy’.”