Friday, 26 March 2010

UK must help homes adapt to climate change, MPs say

Britain must increase its efforts to adapt infrastructure and homes to cope with the effects of climate change, parliamentary committee warns
Press Association, Thursday 25 March 2010 10.16 GMT
A programme to "retrofit" homes with measures to make them more energy and water efficient and resilient to flooding is needed to help households cope with climate change, MPs said today.
The environmental audit committee also warned that new housing developments should only get planning approval if they are designed to suit future changes in the climate, as part of efforts to make sure the UK adapts to rising temperatures.
And there needs to be greater focus on "green infrastructure" including water storage, more trees and more open spaces which can tackle flash flooding and hot city summers, the committee said.
A report by the committee of MPs warned efforts to adapt to a changing climate needed to be as much of a priority as cutting the greenhouse gas emissions which cause global warming.
The UK is already locked in to a rise in temperature, and is expected to experience wetter winters, drier summers and a higher likelihood of heatwaves, storms and flooding.
To maintain current levels of flood protection will require real terms spending on defences to increase from around £600m a year now to £1bn in 2035.
And by the end of the century some £7bn may be needed to improve the Thames barrier and tidal defences.
The committee called on the government to ensure there was a coherent approach to adaptation that involves all Whitehall departments and helps local communities tackle the risks posed by climate change.
The government should also be clear how it is going to help those worst affected by climate change - for example those whose homes face the risk of coastal erosion.
Tim Yeo, chairman of the committee, said: "For a long time the climate change debate has focused on reducing carbon emissions, but adapting to the inevitable impacts of rising global temperatures is equally critical.
"Even if all the world's power stations were switched off tomorrow, past emissions mean that some climate change will still take place and we will face more floods, droughts and heat waves."