The U.K. must adapt to warmer temperatures and more frequent storms that may damage roads and power plants while making champagne-style wines and apricots more viable, the government’s climate change adviser said.
Britain must prepare five key areas to ensure it’s ready for the more intense storms and increased flooding that global warming is projected to bring later this century, the Committee on Climate Change’s adaptation panel said today. They are: land use planning, infrastructure, buildings, natural resources and emergency preparation, the group said.
“If we wait, it’s going to be too late,” John Krebs, the member of the U.K. upper chamber, the House of Lords, who chairs the panel, said in an interview. “Builders of homes and of national infrastructure such as roads, rail, telecoms, broadcasting and power” will all have to adapt, he said.
Temperatures in the U.K. have already risen by 1 degree Celsius (1.8 Fahrenheit) since the 1970s, and spring arrives on average 11 days earlier. That’s shifted growing seasons for crops and raised sea-levels, according to the panel. Energy developers must be aware of possible impacts, Krebs said.
“Nuclear power stations are situated around the coast in the U.K.,” Krebs said. “We need to be absolutely sure that in terms of possible sea-level rise they’re not going to be at risk in their lifespan, presumably 50 years apiece.”
Krebs said his panel had mainly spoken with government departments and regulators to prepare the report. Consultations with private companies may come in the future. He said he hadn’t spoken with Electricite de France SA, which along with Centrica Plc plans to invest 20 billion pounds ($31 billion) in building four new reactors in Britain.
Champagne and Apricots
Carrying out actions such as insulating homes can protect occupants against the more extreme temperatures predicted with climate change, as well as slashing emissions of the gases blamed for warming, the environment group Friends of the Earth said today in an e-mailed statement.
“Super-insulating our homes and buildings will keep them warmer in winter and cooler in summer, and will also cut fuel bills,” Craig Bennett, the group’s policy and campaigns director, said. “Failure to invest in climate action would be a dangerous and expensive mistake, leaving a far bigger bill for future generations to pick up.”
The U.K. could also tap into potential benefits of warmer temperatures, according to the committee.
“Lengthened growing seasons will make growing exotic crops like apricots, walnuts, champagne and wine more viable,” the committee said. “U.K. businesses could benefit by developing products and services that will be required in the retrofit of old buildings and to improve the resilience of supply chains.”
Buildings need to be adapted to be better suited to warmer temperatures, cities must be designed with more green spaces to allow rainwater to drain, and water will need to be used more efficiently, the committee said. Energy companies will need to adapt to different patterns of consumer demand, and roads and railways will have to cope with warmer temperatures, it said.
The U.K. needs to avoid the “typical British disease,” Krebs said. “We’re good at talking and planning, but we’re less good at acting.”