In a new report out today [Thursday 30 September], researchers are calling on UK governments to unleash the power of nature to protect our homes and farmland from floods, droughts and heatwaves, as the UK’s famously mild climate is rapidly becoming a thing of the past due to climate change.
Last month a major UN scientific report issued a “code red for humanity” and warned of increasing heatwaves, droughts and flooding across the planet but said catastrophe can be avoided if world leaders act fast. More than 2,500 deaths were linked to heatwaves in England last year. This summer flash flooding in London submerged London Underground stations in water and forced hospitals to evacuate patients and cancel surgeries.
The report, Nature-based solutions in UK climate adaptation policy, points out the government needs to act much faster on expert advice about how nature can help us adapt to the impacts of climate change.
Nature-based solutions in UK climate adaptation policy, commissioned by the RSPB, WWF and researched by Oxford University's Nature Based Solutions Initiative, shows how the government could harness the potential of nature and make changes that would directly benefit the quality of life for UK residents, with long term savings for the taxpayer when all costs and benefits are taken into account.
The report shows there are examples all around us of nature protecting us from rising sea levels, flooding, heatwaves and other extreme weather caused by a changing climate. It also says how people’s quality of life could be safeguarded if governments recognised the true value of nature in helping fight and adapt to the very live threat of climate change.
Dr Olly Watts, RSPB Climate Change Policy Officer, said: “Climate change is here – extreme weather is already devastating our homes, our health and our precious wildlife. Yet nature is showing us what to do and how to adapt. As our leaders prepare to meet at COP26, we are sending a message that investing in nature restoration will not only help save some of our most iconic and well-loved species – including seahorses, otters, hedgehogs, bats, bees, butterflies, frogs and many farmland, wetland and garden birds – it will benefit people too, cooling our cities during heatwaves, filtering polluted air, protecting our homes and businesses from flooding, and our coastal communities from rising sea levels".