Thursday, September 16, 2010

UK poorly prepared for impact of global warming

Juliette Jowit in the Guardian (UK): The UK's homes, power stations, roads and water supplies are at risk from flooding, drought and heat waves unless the government takes urgent action to "future-proof" the country, the national climate change watchdog warned today.

The first national assessment of the country's readiness for the impacts of global warming has found the UK was very poorly prepared for the changes, with fewer than one in 15 companies, local authorities and other public bodies taking action to tackle the issue, it says.

"It's the typical British disease that we're good at talking and planning, but less good at acting," said Lord John Krebs, the chairman of the report group. "All too often adaptation is name-checked in policies but it's not clear what that means on the ground."

The report, by the Climate Change Committee's adaptation sub-committee, also calls for speedy action by the government to introduce regulations and funding before it is too late. Recommendations include ensuring new buildings have better insulation and protection against heat waves and flooding, consideration of compulsory water metering to conserve water, "grey" water systems for homes to replace purified tap water with recycled water for gardens and toilets, and better emergency plans to protect vulnerable groups such as the elderly.

"If we wait it will be too late," said Krebs, "the consequence for the nation could be that very soon costs are imposed on households and businesses on the one hand, but on the other hand there are some real business opportunities here that the government could facilitate."

The Thames Flood Barrier in 1994, shot by Ron Hann, Wikimedia Commons via Geograph UK, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

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