More flooding, deaths + water shortages in Essex if don’t act on climate change

July 10, 2020 5:07 PM

Flood protectionIncreases in flooded homes, heat-related deaths and water shortages. This is what Essex can expect if we don't act on climate change now, according to this week's meeting of the Essex Climate Action Commission.

Members heard about the devastating impact of not taking decisive action on the climate challenge - and the importance of a twin-track approach to reduce emissions and build resilience.

During the session, commissioners focused on 'adapting to a changing climate,' with a presentation from Kathryn Brown, Head of Adaptation at the Committee on Climate Change.

Commissioners heard how Essex, along with other parts of the South East, will see hotter summers, water shortages and the degradation of agricultural land unless 'large-scale, ambitious interventions' are introduced.

Over 75,000 homes across the East of England - more than double the current number- could be put at risk of flooding over the next thirty years, commissioners were warned.

However, the huge potential for wide-ranging benefits to the local economy and residents' physical and mental health and wellbeing if adaptation action is taken now should be seized with both hands, the Commission heard.

Commissioners discussed the huge opportunities to build on the changes that have already taken place as a result of the current pandemic.

Lord Randall, chair of the Essex Climate Action Commission, said, "It is very clear from what we have heard and discussed during this meeting that now is the time to act on climate change.

"I want us to be bold, bold, bold. The time has passed for us to be tinkering about on the edges of climate change. This whole pandemic shows that we can act quickly and decisively. This is the moment to take action.

"COVID-19 has shown us all how quickly we can make small changes to our lifestyles which have the potential to have an enormous impact on the health of our planet for years to come.

"Now, this Commission will consider the further recommendations we need to make to ensure that we build on these positive developments so that the people and businesses of Essex have a greener, healthier and greater future to look forward to."

Recommendations on coastal change, land use, housing and urban areas and business and financial matters were considered during the meeting.

Cllr Simon Walsh, Cabinet Member for the Environment and Climate Change Action, said: "I am extremely grateful for all the hard work of the Essex Climate Action Commission and its commissioners in helping Essex understand how best it can tackle climate change and meet the significant challenges ahead."

The Committee will next meet in September and will focus on how changes to the way we think about transport might help in the fight against climate change.

An interim report with initial recommendations to the Council is due to be published the following month.