London and UK “unprepared” for climate change impact

The London Climate Resilience Review identifies lethal risks to vulnerable communities, citing a lack of strategic vision from the national government hindering progress

An interim report from the London Climate Resilience Review, commissioned by the Mayor of London, indicates a concerning level of unpreparedness for climate change impacts in the city and the broader UK.

Following the 2021 flash floods and the 2022 heatwave, the findings confirm a lack of readiness for major climate impacts, including severe flooding, extreme heat, and wildfires.

Particularly vulnerable communities face a “lethal risk,” as stated by Emma Howard Boyd CBE, Chair of the Review and former Chair of the Environment Agency.

Despite some progress in preparing for extreme heat and surface water flooding, the report suggests that London is underprepared for the current frequency and severity of climate change.

The call for a “step change” in adaptation planning and investment is emphasised to withstand the disastrous effects, such as more intense and frequent heatwaves, rainfall, flash flooding and sea level rise.

The report identifies a lethal risk to Londoners, with certain communities, including low income households, the elderly, minority groups, children and vulnerable health groups, being more susceptible.

The interim report’s key recommendations include conducting a multi-agency exercise to test the city’s preparedness for extreme heat and advocating for Whitehall to provide more funding and powers to councils.

Improvements in housing standards to ensure resilience against climate change, action to prevent major flooding damage and collaborative efforts for a clear strategic vision for climate adaptation in London by 2030 are also proposed.

Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Review, said: “We need pace not perfection. It’s time for the UK, led by its cities and regions, to take action and prioritise adaptation.

“That is an opportunity to make the UK economy more climate resilient, to protect the most vulnerable, to preserve all that we love about London and to show leadership to other cities nationally and globally.”

Sir John Armitt, Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, said: “The truth is that London is not ready to cope with the likely weather changes ahead. This interim report lays out what needs to happen to fix that, including an honest public conversation about the costs of securing reliable transport and utility services in the face of a changing climate.

“That requires infrastructure operators to calculate those costs, informed by expert advice from the Met Office.”

A government spokesperson told Energy Live News: “We recognise the threat from climate change and rising sea levels, which is why we are investing a record £5.2 billion over six years in flood and coastal erosion schemes to better protect properties across England.

“We have also set out a clear five-year adaptation plan to increase the country’s resilience to the effects of climate change and protect people, homes and businesses against climate change risks such as flooding, drought and heatwaves.”

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