We are taking great steps to reduce the amount of carbon we produce to prevent dramatic climate change in the future. Unfortunately, it is almost certain that we will experience changes to our local climate in the coming years. Studies have actually shown that even if we completely stopped using fossil fuels today, it could take up to 40 years for global warming to slow down.
For this reason, we have started identifying how the Council, local businesses and the people who live here will be affected and what we need to do to adapt.
This work has begun through the undertaking of a Local Climate Impact Profile (LCLIP) which identified how the Borough has been affected by severe weather in the past decade. The latest climate projections were then incorporated to identify which events may occur more often.
The findings from this report will be used to make a detailed assessment of our risks to future climate change and help us to understand the actions that we need to take to minimise them.
UK Climate Change Risk Assessment (UK CCRA)
In January 2012, The UK Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA) 2012 was published. It is the first assessment of its kind for the UK and the first in a 5 year cycle. It provides underpinning evidence that can be used by Government to help inform priorities for action and appropriate adaptation measures. It also highlights where more work is needed to understand the scale and nature of the risks, and to help us consider what action we need to take and as such will inform the development of the National Adaptation Programme (NAP) which UK Government will publish in 2013.
Some key findings show why we must act now to prepare ourselves and our businesses for the future impact of climate change. The research reveals that without action, we could see:-
Increases in the frequency of flooding affecting people's homes and wellbeing, especially for vulnerable groups (e.g. those affected by poverty, older people, people in poor health and those with disabilities), and the operation of businesses and critical infrastructure systems. Annual damage to properties in England and Wales, due to flooding from rivers and the sea, rises from £1.2 billion to between £2.1 billion and £12 billion by the 2080s. Without action, a range of important infrastructure such as roads and railways may be affected by a significantly increased risk of flooding based on future population growth and if no adaptive action is taken.
Summer overheating potentially contributing to heat-related health problems. Premature deaths due to hotter summers are projected to increase (e.g. by between 580 and 5900 by the 2050s). This is likely to place different burdens on National Health Service (NHS), public health and social care services. Other health risks that may increase include problems caused by ground-level ozone and by marine and freshwater pathogens.
Reductions in water availability, particularly during the summer, leading to more frequent water use restrictions and, in the longer term, water shortages. The gap between demand and availability will potentially widen, impacting homes, businesses, schools and hospitals. By the 2050s, between 27 million and 59 million people in the UK may be living in areas affected by water supply-demand deficits (based on existing population levels). Adaptation action will be needed to increase water efficiency across all sectors and decrease levels of water abstraction in the summer months.