Has the Government finally acknowledged that efforts to avert climate change are not working? It seems so.
A spokesman for DEFRA said a 4degC rise in global temperatures was now almost certain – that’s double the target limit set by international governments. A Climate Change Risk Assessment, commissioned by the department, shows that the trajectory towards warmer, wetter winters and blistering summers is well established.
Global CO2 emissions are still rising at over five per cent a year and, without a global treaty on curbing greenhouse gases, there is little chance of the situation changing.
It is probably too late for that now anyway, but it would be politically difficult to admit it. “Why all this pain if it makes no difference?”
Now is the time to recognise that we need to accept the reality and shift our focus towards adapting to the impacts of climate change. This is arguably as important for building engineering services firms as trying to stop it happening in the first place. We are heading into a damage limitation phase.
The Government’s risk assessment suggests that British buildings will face the triple threat of overheating, flooding and (ironically) water shortages as we head deeper into the 21st century.
Our industry has plenty of tools available to take on these threats. Rainwater harvesting should become standard; the use of living roofs and solar shading can keep buildings cool; heat pumps can run on cooling option more of the year – boilers for heating will be used less and less…and underfloor heating can easily be switched to cooling.It requires a new mindset, but given the right support, we could be getting on with this now and building owners would enjoy the energy and cost saving benefits immediately.
How about the Government backing our call for a VAT cut on all energy saving measures? That would be a good place to start.