UK ‘is not prepared for extreme weather problems’
The recent catastrophic floods in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands have been blamed on climate change. But how prepared is the UK for more intense rain and very hot weather after the Met Office issued its first ever extreme heat warning last week?
The answer is very worrying, according to Midland energy expert Ron Fox. He quoted the independent Climate Change Committee (CCC) who said Great Britain was woefully unprepared for extreme weather and the situation had worsened over the last five years.
While the world could warm by an average of 4C by 2100, the report says the UK plans are inadequate to cope with even a 2C temperature rise.
“The independent group of experts said they were frustrated by the lack of government action on the need to make homes, infrastructure and services more resilient to floods, heat and humid nights,” said Ron of Noreus Ltd.
They pointed out that global warming can cause tens of billions of pounds of damage over just a short period.
The committee, which was set up to provide the government with advice on the climate crisis, said the government appeared to be deterred by the upfront cost of protecting infrastructure because the benefits were not seen sometimes for several years.
This is what the experts recommend needs to be done to prepare for the impact of climate change.
Buildings: All new homes must be built ready for a hotter climate. Also, existing buildings must be better insulated to help cut carbon emissions. Overheating has emerged as a deadly risk – especially in flats, so landlords should install sunshades, put insulation between floors and provide better ventilation.
The electrical grid: As the UK moves to a low-carbon economy, more electricity will be needed for heating, lighting and for vehicles. But this needs to be protected better because power cuts caused by extreme weather will lead to IT failures and problems with sewage, water, power and transport systems.
Supply chains: The public should be aware that rising temperatures could put worldwide supply links for food, medicines and goods at risk if there were severe floods or problems in one part of the world.
Nature: Climate change will make the loss of plant and animal species, which have been declining for some time, even worse. The report says the government must act urgently to stop the drying out of peat moors which absorb carbon from the atmosphere and are home to some wildlife.
Ron, on the University of Keele Science and Innovation Park in North Staffordshire, said climate change could bring some opportunities for the UK – such as the ability to grow different crops, a longer growing season for farmers and fewer winter deaths from the cold.
“But,” he said, “these are massively outweighed by the risks from rising temperatures. It is time for both the government and the public to play their part by ensuring their homes are well insulated and well ventilated.
“Householders should also avoid paving over gardens because the slabs can absorb heat and they should fit window shutters to keep the sun off the glass and plant creepers to shade the house walls.”
For more information on insulating your home and improving its ventilation, call Ron on 0845 474 6641.
Caption: A cool move – Planting climbing plants will help reduce rising temperatures in homes.