Climate Committee warns UK water supply is «close to the edge»

Government urged to launch new policies to ensure UK is prepared for effects of climate change

The government has been urged to urgently introduce new water efficiency policies, after the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) warned that some sectors of the economy could struggle to cope with the impact of climate change on water supplies.

The warning forms the centrepiece of the second assessment of the UK’spreparedness for the future of climate change from the CCC’s Adaptation Sub-Committee (ASC).

The report will assess how the UK is coping with the current climate, but warn that some sectors such as water supply are already approaching their environmental limits.

It will also reveal that some patterns of development are potentially increasing the UK’s vulnerability to climate change.

In almost all of the nine English local authorities studied for the report, development in areas of flood risk had increased since 2001, while three of the four coastal authorities studied saw an increase in levels of erosion.

The area of hard surfacing also increased in five of the six urban authorities studied, primarily at the expense of urban green space – a scenario which the committee warned could lead to higher surface water flooding risks and an increase in the «urban heat island» effect.

The report acknowledged that these increases in vulnerability may have been offset to some degree by increased investment in flood defences and the greater use of adaptation measures in new homes.

But ASC chairman Lord John Krebs said the report highlighted the need for a sharper focus on the UK’s vulnerability to climate change.

«By taking steps to manage this vulnerability, local communities, businesses and households can save money today and reduce the costs of climate change in the future,» he said. «The Committee has outlined a number of opportunities to ensure that we are adequately prepared and our economy is made more resilient. The government should address these in its forthcoming national adaptation plan».

The ASC warned that climate risks are not being factored sufficiently into long-term decision-making on land-use planning and water infrastructure.

It urged Defra to introduce a package of adaptation measures in its forthcoming National Adaptation Programme, including initiatives to promote for efficient taps, showers and toilets that could reduce water use by households by around one third.

It also recommended measures to reduce damage from flooding, such as the installation of air-brick covers, door-guards and drainage bungs on at risj properties.

In addition, it called for investment in low-cost measures that would reduce the need for new costly air-conditioning, such as energy-efficient appliances that limit the release of waste heat and increased use of window shading.

New policy approaches might also be required to encourage people to take up these opportunities, the report said, such as a wider use of water meters, and tighter regulations on new housing to improve their climate resilience.

Responding to the report, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman, said Defra would help businesses increase their resilience to the effects of climate change.

«The increasing frequency of extreme weather events like the severe winter we had and the second dry spring are stark reminders that we must adapt and build resilience to face the challenge of climate change, as the ASC’s second assessment makes clear,» she said.

«But our response cannot be business as usual. That’s why the government is developing the National Adaptation Programme to help businesses and communities minimise the risks.»

Source / Fuente:

Author / Autor: Jessica Shaklema

 Date / Fecha: 14/07/11

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