Nearly 2 million people living in the greater Glasgow area face serious disruption from global warming unless billions of pounds are invested in protecting homes, businesses and transport links, according to a report.
A study on the impacts of climate change on the Clyde region estimates that around 140,000 of its poorest people will be the most affected by increasing heat waves, flash floods and droughts, as they are the least equipped to deal with it.
The report from Climate Ready Clyde, a coalition of 15 councils, universities, NHS and infrastructure organizations, was released as Glasgow prepares to host the Cop26 global climate talks in November.
He estimates there is already a funding gap of at least £ 184million per year to start renovating homes and offices in a heatwave, defending roads and rail links against floods and storms , and plant 18 million trees to absorb the higher temperatures and precipitation over the coming decades.
“Urgent mobilization of additional funding is crucial,” the report said, adding that failure to do so will cost the region billions of dollars in lost revenue and emergency spending.
James Curran, coalition chairman and former chief executive of the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, said a ‘transformational approach’ was needed. Hosting Cop26 added to the sense of urgency in the region.
“Climate change exacerbates existing inequalities and if we do not respond in a coherent and urgent manner, the inequalities that already exist in society will be exacerbated,” he said.
“Some of the people who can least afford it and who are least to blame for causing climate change will suffer the most from poor housing; they will suffer from humidity in winter; they will experience excessive heat in summer; public transport will be disrupted.
The region, which has 1.8 million people in an area of 1,292 square miles (3,346 km2) straddling the River Clyde, including towns like Hamilton, Paisley, Lanark and Dumbarton, is already one of the regions. wettest urban areas in the UK.
The Met Office climate forecast estimates that without radical action to stop global carbon emissions, Glasgow’s peak summer temperatures will rise by at least 1.1 ° C by 2030 and 2.6 ° C by 2080 .
By 2050, there is a 50% chance that each year Glasgow will experience summers as hot as the record set in June 2018, when the city baked in temperatures of nearly 32 ° C, warping rail tracks and melting materials into the roof of the Glasgow Science Center.
Average summer precipitation will drop by about 5% in the conservative scenario, but the region will experience flash floods. Winter precipitation will increase by at least 5%, with a much higher rate of intense thunderstorms.
These figures assume the world will limit global warming to 2.9 ° C above pre-industrial levels by 2080. In the worst-case scenario, where they would rise 4.6 ° C by 2080, summer temperatures city highs could rise by 7 ° C.
The Glasgow City Region Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan report says these general changes and an increase in extreme weather events mean up to 100,000 homes and 18,700 businesses in the region would be at risk of flooding by 2080.
Deemed by climate policy experts to be one of the most important to emerge in the UK, the report identifies 11 priority issues, some where investment and planning are already inadequate. They include:
- An early warning system of public climate alerts covering many other risks, including surface flooding, heat waves, droughts, forest fires and landslides.
- Reserve vacant land for use as floodplains and block new development in floodplains.
- Pay to adapt people’s homes and workplaces to heat waves, floods and subsidence, especially for residents of the poorest neighborhoods and high-density housing.
- Invest in habitat restoration, tree planting and wetlands to strengthen natural protection against floods and heat waves.
- A significant increase in spending to protect roads, railways and bridges against flooding, erosion and landslides.
- Ensure that social justice is anchored in the region’s climate strategies, so that the poorest and most vulnerable are the most assisted.
Chris Stark, chief executive of the Climate Change Committee, which advises UK governments on climate strategy, said the Clyde plan should be replicated by other urban areas.
“It’s a meaningful and enjoyable plan. You can imagine what a city that is well adapted and ready for climate change would look like. And that would be a deeply positive thing for the region and all the people who live there, ”Stark said.
There are criticisms that it avoids questioning the region’s heavy reliance on highways and private car use, and does not offer much larger investments in public transport. CRC argues that its new report focuses on adaptation to the impacts of global warming rather than transportation systems.
Dr Richard Dixon, Managing Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said not tackling car use was a ‘missing piece’ in the strategy. But he added: “Agreeing on such an ambitious plan with a wide range of organizations has perhaps not been easy. It is especially important to focus the minds of decision makers that there is a clear and precise price put on the work required.