Nearly 2 million people living in the Greater Glasgow area face severe disruption from global warming unless billions of pounds are invested in protecting homes, businesses and transport links, according to a report.
TO study On the impacts of climate change in the Clyde area, it is estimated that around 140,000 of its poorest residents will be the hardest hit by increased heat waves, flash floods and droughts, as they are the least equipped to face.
The report by the Climate Ready Clyde, a coalition of 15 councils, universities, the NHS and infrastructure bodies, has been released as Glasgow prepares to host the COP26 global climate talks in November.
It is estimated that there is already a funding shortfall of at least £ 184 million a year to start modernizing homes and offices for heat waves, defend roads and rail links against floods and storms, and plant 18 million trees to absorb more temperatures. highs and rains in the coming decades.
“Urgent mobilization of additional financing is crucial,” says the report, adding that failure to do so will cost the region billions in lost revenue and emergency spending.
James Curran, chairman of the coalition and former chief executive of the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, said a “transformational approach” was needed. Hosting Cop26 increased 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 worsen,” he said.
“Some of the people who can least afford it and are least guilty of creating climate change are the ones who are going to suffer the most with substandard housing; they will suffer humidity in the winter; they will suffer excessive heat in the summer; public transportation will be disrupted. “
The region, which has a population of 1.8 million in an area of 1,292 square miles (3,346 square kilometers) on both sides of the River Clyde, including cities such as Hamilton, Paisley, Lanark and Dumbarton, is already one of the wettest urban regions in the world. UK.
Weather Office climate forecasts estimate that without radical action to halt global carbon emissions, Glasgow’s summer highs will rise by at least 1.1 ° C by 2030 and by 2.6 ° C by 2080.
By 2050, there is a 50% chance that every year Glasgow will experience summers as hot as the record reached in June 2018, when the city warmed to temperatures of nearly 32 ° C, warping train tracks and melting material. on the roof of the Glasgow Science Center.
Average rainfall in summers will drop around 5% in the conservative scenario, but the area will experience flash floods. Winter rainfall will increase by at least 5%, with a much higher rate of severe storms.
Those figures assume that the world limits global warming to 2.9 ° C above pre-industrial levels by 2080. In the worst case, where they increase by 4.6 ° C by 2080, the city’s maximum summer air temperatures could increase by 7 ° C.
The Glasgow City Region report, adaptation strategy and action plan, says that those general changes and an increase in extreme weather events mean that up to 100,000 homes and 18,700 businesses in the region would be at risk of flooding. by 2080.
Seen by climate policy experts as one of the most important to emerge in the UK, the report identifies 11 priority themes, including some where there is already inadequate investment and planning. They include:
An early warning system of public weather alerts that covers many more hazards, including surface floods, heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and landslides.
Set aside vacant land to use as floodplains and block new development in flood-prone areas.
Pay to adapt people’s homes and workplaces to cope with heat waves, floods and subsidence, especially for residents in the poorest areas and in 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 from flooding, erosion, and landslides.
Ensuring that social justice is embedded in the region’s climate strategies, so that the poorest and most vulnerable are most supported.
Chris Stark, executive director of the Committee on Climate Change, which advises UK governments on climate strategy, said the Clyde plan should be replicated by other regions of the city.
“It is a meaningful and pleasant plan. You can imagine what a city that is well adapted and prepared for climate change would look like. And it would be a profoundly positive thing for the region and all the people who live in it, ”Stark said.
There is criticism that it avoids questioning the region’s heavy reliance on highways and private car use, and does not propose much greater investment in public transport. CRC argues that its new report focuses on adapting to the impacts of global warming rather than transportation systems.
Dr Richard Dixon, CEO of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said not addressing car use was a “missing piece” in the strategy. But he added: “Agreeing on such an ambitious plan with a wide range of agencies may have been a feat. It is particularly important to focus the minds of decision makers that there is a clear and specific price tag for the work required. “
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism