Climate Change

Evidence shows that our climate is already changing. Some changes are now inevitable and more extreme changes will become unavoidable unless we drastically reduce our carbon emissions. Climate projections show that London will experience warmer, wetter winters and hotter, drier summers.

As well as the gradual change in overall climate, we expect to see more frequent and intense episodes of extreme weather, meaning that we will need to consider adapting our buildings, communities and lifestyles to prepare for more frequent:

Heatwaves

Flooding

Droughts

Dealing with the consequences of climate change is known as ‘adaptation’. This includes actions such as improving resilience to flooding, modifying our buildings so they remain cool during the hotter summers, and reducing our water use to tackle drought.

Adapting to climate change is a process. It needs to be built into our normal planning and risk management procedures, whether in business, government or service design.

Considering it in parallel with climate change mitigation will ensure that the balance is right and avoid making costly mistakes. An integrated approach to climate change

ensures that sustainable adaptation decisions can be made at the right time to maximise the benefits and minimise costs to services and people. Proactive adaptation is much cheaper than retrospective actions and disaster recovery.

We must ensure we are ready for our changing climate today and tomorrow.

Recent extreme weather events in the UK

Extreme weather isn’t just something that we need to build resilience to for the future: it’s something that affects us already. If we look back over just the last 13 years we can see extreme weather incidents affected us almost every year:

Year Event
2014 Winter storms, flooding
2013 Snow and ice, heatwave, strong winds, winter storms
2012 Flooding, Drought
2011 Unusually warm spring, Unusually warm autumn
2010 Snow and ice, flooding
2009 Snow and ice, flooding
2008 Snow and ice, flooding
2007 Snow and ice, flooding
2006 Heatwave, drought
2005 Flooding
2003 Heatwave
2001 Flooding
2000 Flooding

Adapted from Met Office records.

Global events

The impacts of extreme weather events are far-reaching, and they are felt particularly acutely in multicultural cities such as London, where many of our inhabitants originate from other parts of the world. LCCP recognises that global extreme weather events can impact on the wellbeing of Londoners and their families in a number of ways.

Extreme weather events and changes in climate around the world also have an impact on London’s financial wellbeing through impacts to supply chains and stock prices.

Recent examples include:

  • 2011 – Hard Drive shortage impacts on computer manufacture and prices following the flooding in Thailand
  • 2011 – Cotton production is damaged causing a 15% rise in prices within a month after flooding in Pakistan
  • 2010 – Wheat prices rise by 50% within two months after severe drought and ensuing wildfires in Russia
  • 2007/8 – Crop shortfalls from natural disasters was one of the contributing factors in the Global Food Crisis, which saw drastic increases in food prices
  • 2003 – The heatwave in Europe caused major agricultural damages, totalling €13 billion in the European Union. This included a 10-20% decrease in wheat production in the UK and France

To see how the climate is changing on a global scale, you can visit the Met Office website.

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