On Wednesday, the Environment Agency (EA) will submit its third report to the Government under the Climate Change Act only 20 days before the start of the COP26 in Glasgow. The document reveals England will inevitably tackle floods that could kill hundreds of people and destroy even more homes according to the Agency’s forecast.
What happened in Germany and Belgium over the summer was quoted as examples of what the UK should prepare for by the report.
In a statement, EA chairwoman Emma Howard Boyd shared apocalyptic words to highlight how the danger was near and should be taken into consideration immediately.
“Some 200 people died in this summer’s flooding in Germany,” she said.
“That will happen in this country sooner or later, however high we build our flood defences unless we also make the places where we live, work and travel resilient to the effects of the more violent weather the climate emergency is bringing.
“It is adapt or die.”
As the world is heading for an increase in global average temperature of just under 3C by the end of the century, the report says even a rise of 2C would lead to natural catastrophes.
They expect London’s sea level to be up by 23cm by the 2050s and 45cm by the 2080s.
Winter rainfall would be up by 6% by the 2050s and 8% by the 2080s (compared with 1981-2000) while summer rainfall, on the contrary, would be down by about 15% by the 2050s.
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“The climate crisis is global, but its impacts are in your village, your shop, your home.
“Adaptation action needs to be integral to government, businesses and communities too and people will soon question why it isn’t – especially when it is much cheaper to invest early in climate resilience than to live with the costs of inaction.
“With the right approach, we can be safer and more prosperous.
“So let’s prepare, act and survive.
“While mitigation might save the planet, it is adaptation, preparing for climate shocks, that will save millions of lives.
“Choosing one over the other on the basis of a simple either/or calculation is like telling a bird it only needs one wing to fly.”
The conclusions of the report call for everyone from local authorities to homeowners and businesses to take basic steps to flood-proof their own properties and more investment in natural ways of reducing flood risk.
EA acknowledges that billions of pounds have been spent on flood defences – and that more is earmarked.
In response, a spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said: “We are taking robust action to improve resilience to climate change across the whole country and economy, and adaptation to climate change is integrated into policies throughout government.
“We’re also using our COP26 presidency to drive climate adaptation around the world, protecting communities and natural habitats.”
Defra claims it is currently spending £5.2bn to protect 336,000 properties from flooding and coastal erosion.
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