UK report predicts new challenges for stormwater management due to climate change

After the passage of a recent history-making referendum to leave the European Union, the United Kingdom is sure to undergo its share of new changes — but according to a new report by the UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC), one of the country’s largest adjustments could be to the looming threats posed by global warming.

The Climate Change Act of 2008 requires the UK government to compile an assessment of potential risks and opportunities associated with the latest climate change data to be presented to Parliament every 5 years.

Among the most troubling concerns addressed by the 2000-page evidence report, which will be delivered officially this January, emphasizes a need for more sophisticated flood management infrastructure.

“A warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture, leading to heavier rainfall and more frequent flooding, including outside of recognised flood risk areas,” the Risk Assessment Synthesis Report reads.

 

Green infrastructure can help

The report urges UK governments to take further advantage of the movement toward green infrastructure, which can mimic how stormwater is directed and re-used in nature while also mitigating risks of urban flooding and runoff pollution. In the same vein, the report highlights a need for major UK cities to update their drainage systems in anticipation of large flood events.

 

Risks identified

Other climate change-related risks identified by the assessment include

  • shifts in the UK coastline,
  • threats to health and productivity due to higher average temperatures,
  • the spread of invasive pests and diseases, and
  • shortages in water supply and food production.

However, the CCC also recognizes opportunities in longer growing seasons and warmer weather for the UK agricultural and forestry industries, and in increased global demand for climate change adaptation-related goods and services to be supplied by the domestic engineering and insurance sectors.

According to Lord John Krebs, chairman of the Adaptation Subcommittee under the CCC, the time to prepare for climate change effects that may not manifest until well into the future is now.

“Delaying or failing to take appropriate steps will increase the costs and risks for all UK nations arising from changing climate,” Krebs warns in the report.

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