Temperatures are expected to soar and break records today, and with extreme temperatures becoming a more regular occurrence, the UK will have to adapt its infrastructure and communities. We published a report today on climate resilience and extreme events, which lays out recommendations on how to prepare for the changing climate.
UK climate projections have calculated that we face between 70cm (for a low emissions scenario) and 115cm (under high emissions) of sea level rise in London by 2100. We also face an increased risk of flood, heatwaves, drought and storms, and good emergency planning and management will be crucial.
As a densely populated island with considerable historic infrastructure and development, the UK faces challenges to cope with such change. We must adapt our homes, our infrastructure and our approaches to future development carefully and safely, and we must do this more quickly than we currently are and government must commit to higher levels of investment in resilience.
CIWEM Director of policy, Alastair Chisholm, said
“The climate crisis is finally near the top of the political priority list. Today’s sweltering temperatures illustrate that cutting carbon is just one part of the picture. Climate change is happening now, and the UK’s world class modelling shows it’s going to continue however dramatically we reduce our emissions. People die because of heatwaves, floods and storms and the damages caused to our economy are considerable. We need the same kind of ambition on adapting to these extreme events as government showed recently on net zero.”
The UK will have to adapt. We can choose to do so in a planned manner to minimise the unfavourable impacts, or simply react as extreme events unfold. The latter option is completely unacceptable. We must not lose sight of the importance of adaptation amongst the focus to achieve net zero. Even if we reach the ambitious target of keeping global heating to below 2oC above pre-industrial levels, this would still mean significant changes to our climate.
CIWEM makes four recommendations on adaptation:
1) Government must be clear that bodies at all levels of society must factor adaptation and resilience into their investment planning and maintenance programmes.
2) Government must require that infrastructure – from housing development through to critical infrastructure – deliver best practice on resilience as standard.
3) Emergency response will become even more crucial as extreme events become more frequent, and the ability of communities to recover quickly will require a multi-level joined up approach.
4) There is a need to develop greater trust between communities who bear the brunt of climate change and decision makers, ensuring communities are listened to and actively involved in programmes and decisions which will affect them.
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