England faces more floods and droughts, rising sea levels and increased demand for water supplies due to climate change, the Environmental Agency has warned.
Ahead of the UN Cop26 In the climate talks in Glasgow, the government agency cautions that adaptation – becoming resilient to the already inevitable effects of climate change – is just as important as actions to reduce greenhouse gases.
It is a case of “adapt or die,” said Environment Agency President Emma Howard Boyd, warning that deadly events such as the floods in Germany this summer it would hit the UK if the country did not become resilient to the more violent weather brought by the climate emergency.
In a report to the government, the EA said climate change would exacerbate pressure on England’s aquatic environment, which suffers from problems such as pollution and increased demand, and would make it difficult to ensure abundant and clean water.
The agency alone cannot protect everyone from rising flood and coastal risks, and traditional flood defenses will not be able to prevent all flooding and coastal erosion, according to the report.
There will be more and worse environmental incidents, such as floods, water shortages and pollution; regulation is not ready for climate change; and the natural world cannot adapt as quickly as the climate is changing, the EA said.
The report notes that population growth and climate change will increase demand for water and means that if no further action is taken between 2025 and 2050, more than 3.4 billion additional liters of water per day will be needed for a public supply. of resilient water.
Warmer and drier summers, rising sea levels, and development pressures add to water supply problems for people, industry, agriculture, recreational use of rivers, and wildlife. With 2 ° C of global warming, below the level of warming for which the world is currently on track, England’s winter rains will increase by about 6%, but summer rains will decrease by 15% by the 2050s .
The report warns that London’s sea level is expected to rise between 23cm and 29cm by the 2050s, and about 45cm at 2 ° C of warming, or 78cm in a much warmer world by the decade of 2080. River flow patterns will become more extreme and wet days could become more intense.
The Environment Agency said it was working with government, businesses and communities on flood protection and with regulator Ofwat on water supply.
He said he was focusing on restoring and creating peatlands, wetlands and other habitats to create resilient places for wildlife, reduce flood risk, improve water quality and boost access to green spaces for people.
Howard Boyd said: “The climate crisis is global, but its impacts are on your village, your store, your home.
“Adaptation action must also be comprehensive for government, businesses and communities, and people will soon wonder why it is not, especially when it is much cheaper to invest early in climate resilience than to live with the costs of adaptation. inaction”.
He added: “While mitigation could save the planet, it is adaptation, preparing for climate crises, that will save millions of lives.
“It’s adapt or die. With the right approach, we can be more secure and more prosperous. So let’s get ready, take action and survive. “
The warnings are found in the Environment Agency’s third adaptation report, submitted to the government under the Climate Change Act.