Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
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Ruddock launches one-stop shop for adapting to climate impacts

Ruddock launches one-stop shop for adapting to climate impacts

DEPARTMENT FOR ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS News Release (News Release ref : 242/08) issued by The Government News Network on 24 July 2008

Climate Change Minister Joan Ruddock today called on organisations across the public and private sector to develop imaginative and innovative approaches to deal with the impact of a changing climate.

Launching a new information hub that will help businesses, planners, and others to adapt to climate change, Ms Ruddock said that as the climate changed, there would be more extreme weather, with an increased risk of flooding and erosion, hotter and drier summers, loss of biodiversity and risks to human health - and society would have to adapt to those changes.

The website is a one-stop shop offering easy access to the most comprehensive collection of resources on adapting to climate change available in the UK, and is part of the Government's drive to ensure that Britain is ready to deal with the impacts of climate change that are already irreversible.

It includes details of how the climate will alter, links to practical tools for adaptation, and examples of what is already being done around the country.

Ms Ruddock said:

"Our climate is changing. We need to future proof our buildings and public spaces against this as much as possible. Even nature itself will need help to adapt to climate change if we're not to lose precious biodiversity.

"We'll need good design that works with the environment rather than against it, creating buildings that stay cool in the heat and deal with water that will be in short supply in summer and pouring into the drains during heavy storms. This one stop shop will help people to identify the challenges we will face in the future and to make the decisions now that will help us to manage them.

"We are already starting to see some visionary climate-resistant buildings around Britain. I want builders and designers to follow the lead of the innovators behind these buildings by factoring a changing climate into their plans."

One example of planners adapting to the impacts of climate change can be seen through the London and Quandrant Housing Trust. The effects of climate change mean that there is a growing demand for sustainable housing. The London and Quadrant Housing Trust has announced the first homes in London to be delivered to Level 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes.

Vale Street is an urban residential scheme that: has selected building materials and used construction methods that mean the homes will retain warmth in the winter and yet remain cool in the summer; aims to reduce the energy demand of homes through mechanical heat recovery and super insulating the building fabric; sued green roofs which benefit biodiversity and keep buildings cooler; orientated the houses towards the open aspects of the site, reflecting the need for solar shading and passive solar heating.

An example of a school adapting to climate change is Charter School. In 1999 Penoyre and Prasad were asked to refurbish the buildings of the Charter School in London. The architects noticed that the main block had one long expanse facing south west, getting the sun all day long, and one faced north east, and got none at all. The sides were treated in the same way - this meant the students could be cold on one side and warm on the other. The architects took off the single-glazing around the whole building and put a modern cladding of glass, ventilation louvers and aluminium panels. In the entrance all, there are now clear pipes running down from the rainwater harvesting system on the roof, so the children can see how much water they've collected that week.

A further example of adaptation in practice is the Thames Estuary 2100, an Environment Agency project to develop a tidal flood risk management plan for the Thames Estuary though to the end of the century. Using the latest climate change scenarios and models, and taking account of future sea level rise, the final plan will recommend what flood risk management measures will be required in the Estuary, where they will be needed and when over the coming century. The final plan will also be flexible to ensure that it can be adaptable to sea levels rising faster, or storm surges become more intense than anticipated.

Preliminary findings show that the Thames Barrier with some adaptation, will continue to provide protection through to the end of the century. However, by 2050 we may need to improve many of the flood defence walls and embankments and that we will need to create new inter-tidal habitats to offset the impact of rising sea levels before 2030.

A climate-resilient building in the future could include reinforced foundations to deal with soil shrinkage, permeable paving to absorb heavy rainfall, secure ventilation to ensure that it is both safe and cool, rainwater storage, and ways to reduce the impacts of flooding, such as putting power outlets higher up the walls.

To avoid dangerous climate change, it is vital to reduce CO2 emissions around the world and in the UK. However, even if all emissions stopped tomorrow, the world will still see rising temperatures for 30 to 40 years, and at least 100 years of sea level rise, due to CO2 emissions from the past..

The site is linked to the UK Climate Impacts Programme, the Environment Agency and others who are working on adapting to climate change, and will be updated regularly to reflect the latest information and advice.

Notes to Editors

1. The Adapting to Climate Change website can be found at http://www.defra.gov.uk/adaptation, and forms part of the cross-Government Adapting to Climate Change Programme. For regional examples of adapting to our charging climate, please contact COI branch.

2. The Government's Adapting to Climate Change Programme brings together the work already being led by Government and the wider public sector on adapting to climate change, and will co-ordinate and drive the development of the Government's work on this in the future. The website provides further information about the Programme, and also provides information about the adaptation clauses in the Climate Change Bill.

3. Further information on the Government's Adapting to Climate Change Programme can also be found in the document, Adapting to Climate Change in England: a framework for action, published on 24 July.

4. The UK Climate Impacts Programme (UKCIP) provides a range of tools to help others understand the possible impacts of climate change, including a set of scenarios that show how our climate might change at a regional and national level. New scenarios are due out in November 2008. It also offers advice on adaptation and assists with research. More information is available at http://www.ukcip.org.uk/

5. The majority of UKCIP's funding is from Defra. Scenarios produced by UKCIP in 2002 suggest that in the UK climate change will mean that:

* average UK annual temperatures may rise by 2 to 3.5oC by the 2080s.

* offshore waters in the English Channel may be up to 4.5 degrees C warmer by the 2080s.

* annual average rainfall across the UK may decrease slightly, by between 0 and 15% by the 2080s.

* snowfall amounts may decrease significantly throughout the UK

* extreme weather events are likely to become more common.

6. The Adapting to Climate Change website forms part of Defra's Act on CO2 campaign. Anyone from anywhere in England can call the Act on CO2 Advice Line on 0800 512 012 to access free, tailored, impartial advice from the Energy Saving Trust on how to reduce their carbon footprint. In addition to the advice on how to use less energy in their home, callers can now get advice on how to save water, reduce waste, green their travel, and connect to grants and offers from energy companies.

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