Adaptation & Building resilience to manage the impacts of climate change

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Adaptation & Building resilience to manage the impacts of climate change

2015 is likely to be the hottest year on record, according to the WMO, with ocean surface temperatures at the highest level since measurements began. Levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached new highs, and it is probable that the 1°C Celsius warming threshold will be crossed. December 2015 broke records for both rainfall and temperature – it was the wettest month on record, and also 4.1 °C warmer than the long-term average. The UK was also hit by a series of storms bringing severe flooding to north-east England, Scotland and parts of Wales and Northern Ireland.

With climate projections predicting warmer and wetter winters, hotter drier summers and an increase in severe weather events, the Climate Change Commission for Wales believes it is critical to prioritise adaptation and building resilience to manage the impact of climate change.

This includes:

*Higher priority for actions that assess vulnerability to climate change impacts, and make the economic case for building our resilience to the impacts of climate change across all sectors.

*Provide support for the development and implementation of the Sectoral Adaptation Plans (SAPs) for Communities, Business & Tourism, Infrastructure, Natural Environment & Health, by taking a ‘systems’ approach, recognising the many inter-dependencies between different organisations and sectors. 

*Build on programmes that support and incentivise community engagement in trialling and then mainstreaming locally-determined and replicable solutions, such as Strong Roots.

In 2015 the Commission’s Adaptation sub-group held workshops with a range of organisations to explore how sectors can improve their resilience. Focussing on “Business & Tourism”, “Communities” and “Infrastructure” sectors we considered

*How current severe weather and future climate change will impact the sectors

*How to identify the risks and opportunities facing the sector

*What sources of help and information are available and how to access them.

*Actions you can take to improve the resilience of your sector to severe weather and climate change impacts – in terms of both keeping your existing systems working, and designing new assets and systems.

Our findings will be published shortly on

Natural Resources Wales

Natural Resources Wales is a key member of the Commission and their role concerns adaptation to the changing climate and includes dealing with individual incidents, such as storms and tackling underlying trends such as changes in seasonal rainfall. Their work to date has highlighted the following priority areas:

*Managing increased risk of flooding from rivers, sewerage systems and the sea

*Managing the impacts of more frequent and more severe droughts

*Dealing with poor river water quality during very wet and very dry periods

*Managing the impacts of a changing climate on landscapes and habitats as well as the species they contain

*Preparing guidance for woodland managers on how to increase resilience to climate change

*Adapting to climate change requires cooperation between a number of different agencies and parties. If a road floods, for example, the emergency services may not be able to get through and people will suffer. For this reason, NRW works very closely  with other organisations and with local communities e.g. through their local Flood Warden scheme and the “Strong Roots” project where  they are working closely with One Voice Wales to help town and community councils, and the communities they represent, improve their resilience to climate change.

More information is available on the NRW website.

Network Rail

Network Rail’s Wales Route team have developed a Weather Resilience and Climate Change Adaptation (WRCCA) plan for Wales supported by an evaluation of the resilience of rail infrastructure to historical weather events and an awareness of potential impacts from regional climate change projections. The Network Rail Sustainable Development Strategy outlines corporate WRCCA objectives to support the long-term management of a weather-resilient railway to achieve Network Rail’s sustainable development vision of a railway fit for the future. These objectives commits the business to:

*Understand current weather resilience, and seek to optimise resilience and enhance adaptation capability

*Develop a thorough understanding of the potential impacts of climate change in terms of infrastructure performance, safety risks and costs

*Embed climate change adaptation within asset policies and investment decisions

*Communicate the role that the rail network plays in supporting weather and climate resilience across Great Britain, and support efforts to increase national resilience.

More information available on the Network Rail website.

Given uncertainty around future climate impacts organisations and communities across Wales should be supported to adapt and build resilience, taking a long-term approach, and seeing this as a mainstream issue that should be addressed within existing processes. There needs to be a recognition of the many interdependencies between different sectors and the communities within which they operate – there needs to a collective response to build capacity and share solutions.

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