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Saltford Environment Group
  towards a sustainable future for our village

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SEG Home > Climate Change

Climate Change

"Climate change is not an environmental issue, but much more to do with security and economics" - Jonathon Porritt

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River Avon in Saltford breaking its banks after prolonged rainfall, November 2012.

Climate change has been described as the greatest and most profound challenge facing humanity in the 21st Century. It requires two responses:

mitigation by reducing CO2 emissions through the more sustainable use of energy, i.e. using less energy through efficiency and then using cleaner renewable sources where appropriate (our 'Energy' page covers this area), and

adaptation so that our communities are more resilient and less vulnerable to climate change and extreme weather events.

The purpose of this page is to help Saltford as a community become more resilient to extreme weather and to adapt to climate change.

Background & making Saltford more resilient

NOTE: We publish news on this topic on our home page and in our newsletters.


To prevent the most severe impacts of climate change, the international community has agreed that it should work together to try and ensure that global warming does not rise by a threshold of more than 2 deg C compared to the temperature in pre-industrial times. Taking account of the existing observed increase of around 0.7-0.8 deg C this means a further temperature increase of no more than around 1.2 deg C.

In November 2014 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its Synthesis Report that distils and integrates the findings of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report produced by over 800 scientists and released over the previous 13 months - the most comprehensive assessment of climate change ever undertaken. The headline message was that "Fossil Fuels should be phased out by 2100" and that most of the world's electricity can, and must, be produced from low-carbon sources by 2050.

However, regardless of action taken to curb anthropogenic carbon emissions (i.e. from human activities), some changes to our climate are unavoidable due to past emissions already in the climate system; the longevity of CO2 in the atmosphere is estimated by scientists to be up to 200 years or more whereas other greenhouse gases are relatively short-lived.

We shall increasingly experience hotter, drier summers and wetter, milder winters, with more extreme weather events. Those extreme weather events will be summer heatwaves, prolonged droughts, stormy weather (higher wind velocities), heavy rainfalls causing flash flooding, and severe winter cold spells* can be expected to continue to impact on the UK including the local area.

*Unpredictable changes to the location and strength of the jet stream that bring storms and weather systems across the Atlantic is another factor arising from climate change that also affects our weather patterns (e.g. cold/hot spells or additional rainfall in some winters and summers).

The consequences of climate change impacts for local communities like Saltford are many and varied. These range from effects on health, damage and disruption to property, electricity, telephones and transport networks, fuel shortages, disruption or closure of businesses, schools etc., animal welfare issues, and problems with food supplies (short and medium-long term). In being aware of what these hazards and problems might be it is important to maintain a sense of perspective and not be unduly alarmed. However, if we adapt and prepare for climate change we can reduce or even avoid many of the worst effects.

We have set out below some actions we can take to make our homes, gardens, business premises and business activities more resilient and less vulnerable to climate change and extreme weather.

Homes, gardens & business premises

This list is by no means exhaustive but should get you thinking on what you can do to keep your home or business premises cool in heatwaves, warm in winter, reduce the risk of flood and other damage to your property, and maintain a more resilient garden:-

  • Insulate your home to keep heat out in the summer and in during the winter - see our Energy page for advice, tips, grants etc.
  • Use pale, reflective external paints.
  • Blinds and shutters can reduce solar gain through windows (many older buildings were originally equipped with shutters which have since been removed or no longer function).
  • Roof maintenance will become increasingly important as higher winds and storms can inflict damage. Chimneys and chimney pots are usually the most exposed part of a house and may become unstable if poorly maintained. Severe winds can dislodge or remove roof coverings.
  • Grow trees and leafy plants near windows to act as natural air-conditioners (but maintain/prune trees close to buildings to a sensible height, taking expert advice as necessary, as poorly managed trees can become vulnerable to higher wind speeds).
  • When choosing new trees to plant, consider the future climate they will be expected to endure (see links below for Forestry Commission advice).
  • Landscape your garden by integrating green landscaping which will have cooling effects and reduce rainwater run-off, decreasing flood-risk.
  • Surface flash-flooding is exacerbated by the extensive paving-over of open ground for roads, footpaths, driveways, and even paved gardens. Consider the benefits of absorbent rather than non-absorbent front and rear garden surfaces.
  • Gardens can provide a safe haven for wildlife suffering from extreme weather and climate change. We will periodically feature articles on our gardening or wildlife pages on how to make our gardens more wildlife friendly taking into account climate change.

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  • Harvest rainwater in your garden (e.g. install a water butt that is closed to prevent mosquito access and breeding) and choose plants that require less summer watering.
  • Keep in regular contact with elderly/frail neighbours during heatwaves and severe cold weather.
  • If you live in a flood risk area*, register with the Environment Agency to receive flood warnings (EA Flood Warnings). You can also take measures to reduce risks to your property - see tips below.

    *You can check if you live in a flood risk area here: EA Flood Zone Map.

Tips for making your property better prepared for flooding

The Environment Agency provides advice on measures to protect buildings in flood zones so that damage is limited and more readily corrected after a flood event. These include:-

- buy purpose-built flood boards that can be installed when flooding is imminent and raise door thresholds;

- fit non-return valves to drains and water inlet and outlet pipes;

- dry-line walls and use horizontal plasterboard, or lime-based plaster instead of gypsum;

- lay tiles with rugs rather than fitted carpets, which often need to be replaced after a flood;

- raise electrical sockets, fuse boxes, controls and wiring to at least 1.5 metres above floor level. If rewiring, bring cables down the wall to the raised socket so that cabling isn't affected;

- in kitchens and bathrooms, use water resistant materials such as stainless steel, plastic or solid wood rather than chipboard. Where possible raise fridges and appliances on plinths;

- fix your audio-visual equipment, for example your TV and hi-fi, to the wall about 1.5 metres above floor level.

Further advice and guidance can be obtained from the Environment Agency Floodline service 0345 988 1188.

Local business response

Almost 60% of small firms do not have plans in place for extreme weather with no resilience plans whereas 66% said their business had been affected by snow, drought or floods in the last 3 years - FSB Survey (2014)

It makes good business sense for our local businesses to maintain an awareness of climate change issues and to respond to the challenges posed.

This approach enables business to:

  • maintain the business (reduce risk of interruption including to supply chain, workforce, transport, infrastructure, & reduce lost sales due to changing customer demands);
  • exploit business opportunities as an early mover in response to market changes (e.g. expanding or new market, changing customer demands/lifestyles, market leader, reputation);
  • manage risks proportionate to other risks (& effect on insurance premiums);
  • manage strategic assets and long-term investment;
  • achieve and maintain Business Continuity; and
  • avoid unnecessary expenditure (e.g. damage or degradation of building fabric etc.) arising from impacts.

See the Business Areas Climate Impacts Assessment Tool (BACLIAT) in our 'Further information & useful links' section below to see how to undertake a vulnerability assessment of your business.

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Further information & useful links

Business Areas Climate Impacts Assessment Tool (BACLIAT)

This practical guide and vulnerability assessment tool helps businesses and organisations assess the appropriate responses to the impacts of climate change. To download from the UK Climate Impacts Programme (UKCIP) website, click here: BACLIAT.

Environment Agency Floodline 0345 988 1188 (24-hour service)

'Warming to the idea' report

Our Chairman has a few copies of the report, Warming to the idea, last updated in 2010, that looks at how the SW region can build its resilience to extreme weather and climate change. The report, produced under the auspices of the Environment Agency, features future seasonal climate change projections to the 2080s, gives business sector advice on the impacts and opportunities those sectors can expect and looks at impacts on the natural environment, economy, society and infrastructure.

SEG members wishing to borrow a copy should contact our Chairman with their request (please include address). A pdf version can be supplied by email if requested.

Some appropriate definitions:

RESILIENCE - the ability of a system to absorb disturbance and still retain its basic function and structure.

ADAPTATION - modification that makes an organism/organisation more fit for existence under the conditions of its environment.

CLIMATE - the average conditions in the atmosphere near the earth's surface over a long period of time (30 years).

EXTREME WEATHER EVENTS - these arise when natural variations in the weather and climate combine with long-term climate change.

WEATHER - state of the atmosphere (temperature, cloudiness, dryness, precipitation, sunshine, wind, etc.) at a place and time, i.e. what's happening outside right now.


Links

B&NES Council - Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation

BBC's 'A brief history of climate change'

Climate Change and your Home - from English Heritage with advice aimed at older homes in particular

Climate Guide - from the Met Office

Climate UK - building resilience to extreme weather & climate change

Cold Weather Plan for England - includes advice on keeping vulnerable people warm and healthy (see also 'Heatwave Plan for England' below)

Defra: Climate Change Adaptation - what the government's doing

Heatwave Plan for England - includes advice on keeping cool and healthy

Tree species and provenance - advice from Forestry Commission on choosing the correct tree for a changing climate

UK Climate Impacts Programme (UKCIP) - at University of Oxford

UK Climate Projections - climate projections on Met Office website

United Nations' 17 Sustainable Development Goals to transform our world - Goal 13 "Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts"



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'Saltford Weather Station'

5-day local weather forecast

This weather forecast is generated by the Met Office Weather Widget. Note: Corston has the nearest weather station to Saltford.


EA Flood Warning Widget
Click on alert/warning symbol for details.

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Click weir for River Avon level in Saltford - station 3043

Page Links:-

Background & making Saltford more resilient

     - Homes, gardens & business premises

     - Local business response

Further information & useful links

Visit our 'Energy' page for CO2 saving advice

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"Climate is an angry beast and we are poking at it with sticks"
Wallace Broecker, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, New York (2003)




"Adaptation is the only means to reduce the now-unavoidable costs of climate change over the next few decades"
'The Stern Review' on economics of climate change (2006)




"While we would not want to attribute every extreme weather event to climate change - the pattern is building and the costs are rising - the human costs and the financial costs"
Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change (2013)



"Because smart risk management is about taking a holistic stance on situations, we should do the same when it comes to the economic and climate change challenges we're facing"
David Cole, Group Chief Risk Officer of Swiss Re (2013)




"We know for sure that human activity is influencing the global environment, even if we don't know by how much. We might still get away with it: the sceptics could be right, and the majority of the world's scientists wrong.
It would be a lucky break.
But how lucky do you feel?"

New Scientist 'Climate Change: Menace or myth?' (2005)




"Let us take advantage of the opportunities presented by climate action and lay the foundations for a more prosperous and secure future for all"
Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General (2014)




"Climate change is not an environmental issue, but much more to do with security and economics"
Jonathon Porritt (2007)



"A stable climate is the most fundamental resource of all. No one has yet built a civilisation in an unstable climate"
Tom Burke, The ENDS Report (May 2008)




"As you warm the climate, you basically raise the speed limit on hurricanes"
Kerry A Emanuel, Atmospheric Scientist, MIT




"Dig the well before you are thirsty"
Chinese proverb




"If we do not permit the Earth to produce beauty and joy, it will in the end not produce food either"
Joseph Woodkrutch




"It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones who are most responsive to change"
Charles Darwin




"We won't have a society if we destroy the environment"
Margaret Mead




"If you mess with something long enough, it will break"
Schmidt's Law




"The best way to predict the future... is to create it"




"The trouble with the future is that it usually arrives before we're ready for it"
Arnold Glasgow




"Business is essential to solving the climate crisis, because this is what business is best at: innovating, changing, addressing risks, searching for opportunities. There is no more vital task"
Richard Branson




"Progressive companies regard climate change as an opportunity rather than a threat"
Tom Delay, Chief Executive, The Carbon Trust (2003)




"Change before you have to"
Jack Welch




"The less reliant a company is on water and materials, the lower the impact of any disruption to supply arising from extreme climate conditions"
Dr Martin Gibson, Programme Director, Envirowise (2008)




Quotes sourced from
philharding.net/quotes-corner/