It is really important to see Adaptation highlighted at COP26. We are already seeing increases in extreme weather events, which are affecting lives and livelihoods across the world. These changes are being driven by climate change. And it is important to remember that – even if we limit to 1.5°C of warming – we are significantly increasing our risks of these extreme events.
Adaptation is all about getting prepared to face these risks. The UK is a lead partner in establishing the Adaptation Action Coalition and is promoting the Race for Resilience: a “global ambition for climate resilience, putting people and nature first in pursuit of a resilient world where we don’t just survive climate shocks and stresses but thrive in spite of them“.
Its is not just an issue for other countries though. We need to adapt and become more resilient in Reading as well.
Two of the biggest climate risks for Reading are:
Hot Summers and Heat Waves – These can be particularly dangerous – and potentially deadly for more vulnerable members of our community. The effects of heat can be made much worse when combined with, for example:
- poor air quality (making respiratory problems even worse)
- or prolonged dry weather (with soils drying and risking structural problems like subsidence).
Flooding – there are a significant number of houses and businesses, in Reading and Caversham, which are at risk from flooding. This includes flooding from the River Thames and the River Kennet but also from extreme rainfall storms. These can quickly overload drainage systems in parts of the town.
- For a good understanding of the history, consequences and future of flooding – see this post on the Thames Valley Flood Scheme.
The first Reading Climate Change Adaptation Plan is on our ReadingCAN website here. This will give you more information about the risks that we face, and what we can do about them. There are examples from organisations like The Oracle and Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, which show how they are working to become more resilient to the changing climate.
There is a lot to do. The recent, third Adaptation Report from the Environment Agency was launched with the message “Adapt or Die!” And the Progress in preparing for climate change – 2019 Progress Report to Parliament, from the Committee on Climate Change, makes very sobering reading:
- England is not prepared for the impacts of a 2°C increase in global and UK temperature, let alone a 4°C temperature increase.
- Only a handful of sectors have plans that consider a minimum of 2°C (water supply, road and rail, flood defences and flood risk planning for infrastructure).
- 12 of 33 sectors have no plans for long-term climate change at all, including aspects of agriculture, the natural environment, health, infrastructure and business.
- None of the 33 priority areas score well in reducing vulnerability and exposure to climate risk.