Sheffield, net zero and the climate emergency
Plus, what to see at the Tramlines fringe
Good morning readers — and welcome to our Monday briefing.
I’m sure I won’t need to tell you that it’s hot…very, very hot. Today and tomorrow are forecast to be the hottest days in Sheffield on record by an astonishing five degrees. Hot and sunny weather is normally celebrated in the press, but there seems to be a dawning realisation that the astronomical temperatures we’re now seeing are abnormal and worrying. Today, we ask if Sheffield is doing enough to address the climate emergency.
As well as that we also have a stunning photo of Manor Lodge, a lovely piece about a project to help Sheffield’s swifts and details of every act playing in this weekend’s Tramlines fringe events.
Catch up and coming up
For our weekend story, we spoke to patients and doctors about the crisis-hit Jessops Wing maternity unit after it failed two inspections in six months. You can still read that piece here.
Last week we sent out two great newsletters to our 733 paying members. The first was a tense piece by Alex Forbes about what it’s like to “free solo” rock climb in the Peak District, and the second was an in-depth look at Sheffield’s new Local Plan which will determine where housing developments happen in the city for decades to come. On Thursday we also sent out a piece about the weird and wonderful wildlife you can expect to see in the Outdoor City this July.
This week we’ll send out two more including one about the new documentary A Film About Studio Electrophonique which tells the story of how car mechanic Ken Patten built a recording studio in his Handsworth council house which launched the careers of legendary Sheffield bands including The Human League, ABC, Clock DVA and Pulp. We also recently interviewed Sheffield’s only Conservative councillor Lewis Chinchen, so look out for that too.
Editor’s appeal: We are still operating The Tribune on a shoestring budget and with a tiny team. To get both of this week’s newsletters and help us grow into the kind of newsroom that can employ a wider range of writers and produce high-quality journalism in Sheffield for years to come, please consider subscribing using the button below. For just £1.34 a week (if you pay upfront for the year), you can help fund a new way of doing journalism in Sheffield. Thank you.
The big picture: Lavender maze 🌸
We loved this picture of pupils from Halifax Academy negotiating Manor Lodge’s lavender maze this week. The medieval hunting lodge is famous for being Mary Queen of Scots’ palatial prison for 14 years in the mid-16th century, and also for hosting Cardinal Wolsey on his journey to stand trial for high treason in 1530.
This week’s weather 🥵
Our weather forecast comes from dedicated Sheffield weather service Steel City Skies, who say a plume of exceptionally hot air will be over us to start the week, gradually becoming less hot as Wednesday progresses. Fresher to end the week.
Monday 🔥 Early high cloud melts away to blue skies and light winds. Becoming exceptionally hot with a new Sheffield record likely. Highs of 37°C.
Tuesday 🔥 A very warm start, then long spells of sunshine dominate again with temperatures even hotter than Monday. Highs could even hit 40°C locally.
Wednesday 🌦 The risk of a shower or intense thunderstorm increases, but it looks uncertain with a warm and muggy day likely. Highs around 25-26°C.
Thursday ⛅ Finally fresher for all with high pressure ridging back in. Mainly dry and settled with highs of 23°C.
Friday ⛅ Generally settled during the day, though a chance of showers or thunderstorms pulsing up from the south later. Highs of 22°C.
The big story: Sheffield, net zero and the climate emergency
Top line: On what could be the hottest day Sheffield has ever experienced, one question should probably be at the forefront of people’s minds: are we doing enough to avert the climate crisis?
It’s just summer! Despite some of the poorly-informed chatter on overexcitable television news channels, the overwhelming majority of climate scientists agree that the temperatures we are currently seeing are not “just summer” — they are in fact much more worrying.
Sheffield’s previous hottest day was set back in July 2019 when a temperature of 35.1C was recorded, which was the highest temperature for 137 years.
A red warning for extreme heat has been issued by the Met Office for Monday and Tuesday, when temperatures in Sheffield are forecast to reach over 40C.
What could the impact be? A national emergency being declared is hugely significant. Last year, 1,600 excess deaths were caused by a heatwave nowhere near as hot as the one we are currently experiencing. For the first time, the UK government is warning people about the likelihood of deaths happening which are a direct consequence of global warming.
What is Sheffield doing? Three years ago this month, in July 2019, Sheffield City Council approved a scientific report which said they must urgently address the climate emergency. The Covid-19 pandemic has understandably slowed their progress, but there are now less than eight years left in this decade for the council to achieve its goal of net zero by 2030.
Earlier this year, it was reported that only 7% of the council’s vehicle fleet was electric and many were still so polluting that they would have to pay to drive through the much-delayed Sheffield city centre clean air zone (CAZ) when it finally starts in 2023.
In March, Jenny Carpenter from the South Yorkshire Climate Alliance’s transport group told the local democracy reporting service that the authority’s slow progress towards “greening” its own fleet of vehicles was “alarming and embarrassing”.
The fierce urgency of now: Many people are calling on Sheffield City Council and the South Yorkshire MCA to go further and faster. Crookes and Crosspool councillor Minesh Parekh, who works with Labour for a Green New Deal, an organisation which campaigns for bolder climate action, told The Tribune that not enough progress had been made.
There are pockets of good work within the council, including its moorland restoration projects, but these are mostly happening due to officers rather than political oversight. There is a huge problem in climate policy being lumped in with other areas like transport and regeneration, which stymies action.
What can journalism do? When it’s really hot, most newspapers choose pictures of people basking on beaches or children playing in fountains. But in an era of dangerous heatwaves, is this really the best way to illustrate the story? Maybe instead we should choose the kind of pictures we’ve used here of dry reservoir beds during droughts in Sheffield and Derbyshire? Forever saying Sheffield is going to be hotter than Ibiza, Turkey or Dubai doesn’t seem like a good idea.
Bottom line: The number of people who openly doubt the science behind climate change are now becoming fewer and fewer. But that hasn’t translated into the kind of urgent action many think we need to see. While being uncomfortable for many and deadly for some, this heatwave could also be a chance for policymakers to refocus on the vital importance of making rapid progress on net zero.
Home of the week 🏡
This delightful two-bedroomed cottage is spread over four floors on a secluded Brincliffe cul-de-sac and commands stunning views over the city. It is on the market for £325,000.
Our favourite reads 📚
The rise and fall of famous city street 🌆 A fascinating piece in The Star looks back at the history of Fargate, from its early origins in the 11th century to the bustling shopping street it became in the 19th and 20th. Writer Vin Malone says that in its heyday, Fargate had 16 pubs and in 1893 114 businesses were based there, either fronting onto the road itself or sharing the different chambers. The piece also has some great photos of Fargate through history.
Room at the top: woman races to help swifts blocked from Sheffield roofs 🐦 A lovely article in The Guardian about efforts in Sheffield to help swifts amid drastic falls in the much-loved bird’s population. Chet Cunago’s band of volunteers survey homes to ensure that re-roofing and scaffolding does not disrupt their nests while Mel Savas helped set up S6 Swifts which has since provided 260 nest spaces by encouraging local people to buy swift boxes.
Transforming river waste into beauty 🪴 A nice story in Now Then about a group of Sheffield graduates who are converting stacks of river rubbish into colourful, eco-friendly plant pots to highlight the need to look after the city’s waterways. Since founding Flod in 2021, the four have used panini makers, microwaves and a glass crusher to transform over 50kg of waste plastic and glass into more than 100 plant pots, donating a share of the profits to charity.
Pool party 🏊
Nestled in the beautiful Hope Valley, Hathersage pool is probably one of the most scenic in the country. The historic pool, which was very busy over the weekend, was gifted to Hathersage by razor manufacturer George Lawrence in 1936. Lawrence, who also gifted Longley swimming pool to Sheffield, was killed in the Sheffield blitz in 1940 while he was delivering refreshments to his workers.
Things to do 📆
Heritage 🥾 On Tuesday, July 19, discover the history of Kelham Island on a two-hour walking tour that will bring to life one of Sheffield’s first industrial districts. Led by local historian and resident Anders Hanson, the walk covers the area’s history as well as the successes and tragedies of the people who created it. It will also offer insight into how it became the Kelham Island of today. The walk costs £10 per person and sets off at 6pm.
Theatre 🎭 The Chapterhouse Theatre Company will this Thursday, July 21 perform Romeo and Juliet at Sheffield Cathedral. Shakespeare’s story of star-crossed lovers and feuding families will be performed in full Elizabethan costume by a troupe of top Shakespearean actors in the magical surroundings of Sheffield’s most historic building. Doors open at 6.30pm and the two-hour show starts at 7.30pm. Tickets are priced from £11-£18 (family tickets are £50).
Music 🎸 Sheffield’s biggest party Tramlines takes place this weekend, featuring headline acts Sam Fender, Kasabian and Madness. However, even if you haven’t got a ticket for the main event at Hillsborough Park, there are fringe events taking place all over the city from Thursday to Sunday, many of which are free. The main fringe stage is at Devonshire Green but for a full list of everything happening across the entire weekend see this fantastic list.
South African solidarity 🇿🇦
The third part of Sheffield’s hugely successful Grey to Green project was unveiled on Saturday. The Angel Street section replaces trees that were planted there in 1985 in honour of those who died in the Sharpeville massacre in South Africa in 1960. A new plaque has been placed there to mark the event and an exhibition about the anti-apartheid movement in Sheffield is currently on at Kommune.