Adapting to climate change needs our ‘urgent, unswerving attention’ says National Trust with launch of landmark report - National Trust

a swollen river brown with mud flowing around mature trees
Submerged trees at Ilam Park in Derbyshire © National Trust

The National Trust is calling on all political parties to ramp up progress on adaptation by introducing new legislation that recognises the importance of adapting buildings, coastlines and countryside to cope with the impacts of climate change.

It comes as the Trust launches a landmark report – A Climate for Change - which outlines for the first time the charity’s approach to climate adaptation and details how technology is helping detect future threats to its places, ahead of COP28.

The charity says parties should commit to legislating in the first session of the next parliament by writing into law a Climate Resilience Act with clear legal duties and targets for adaptation.

As the UK’s largest conservation charity, caring for 250,000 hectares of land, 780 miles of coastline and 220 gardens and parks, the Trust is already experiencing first-hand the consequences of more frequent extreme weather events – from heavier rainfall causing repeated flooding, to rising temperatures, prolonged periods of drought and more wildfires across its landholding.

These changes are also beginning to affect some of the 28,000 buildings and precious collections in its care, as well as causing challenges for the volunteers and staff who are managing the impacts.

In some places, heavier rainfall is overwhelming historic guttering systems causing recurring issues with damp, and higher temperatures are causing issues with humidity, as well as providing niches for pests and diseases.

Previous analysis by GIS Consultants 3Keel revealed that nearly three-quarters (71 per cent) of the places looked after by the charity could be at a medium or high risk of climate hazards by 2060.

The Trust says it is not alone in the challenges it faces in tackling the impacts of climate change and believes the new proposed legislation will ensure adaptation is on an equal footing with mitigation and the pathway to net zero. It is also calling for decision-making that builds climate considerations into all government processes, and for leaders and organisations everywhere to start working together to prepare for climate impacts.

Patrick Begg, Outdoors and Natural Resources Director at the National Trust said: “Climate change presents the single biggest threat to the places in our care and the single biggest challenge to our mission – to look after places of nature, beauty and history for everyone to enjoy, now and in the future.

“It demands our urgent and unswerving attention, and we call on our partners and on Governments across the UK to stand with us, and to do more to confront the challenges we all face.

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Posted On: 20/11/2023

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