Flood risk hits home with calls to protect UK from dangerous climate change

Press release
Forever House at Fountains Abbey
Published : 23 Sep 2021 Last update : 24 Sep 2021

With the autumn and winter period fast approaching and the increasing severity of seasonal storms and heavy rainfall, The Climate Coalition (TCC) is urging Government to cut emissions faster, support adaptation for vital infrastructure and invest more in nature-based solutions in its Autumn Spending Review.

To raise awareness of the growing threat that climate change poses to properties in the UK, and to mark the conclusion of the Great Big Green Week, The Climate Coalition and the National Trust have teamed up with artist, Richard Woods, to create a new installation at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal in Yorkshire.  The piece – Forever Home – depicts an upturned house in a lake in the grounds of Fountains Abbey, which is one of 31 UNESCO World Heritage Sites already seeing the impact of climate change.

The Environment Agency estimates that 5.2 million properties in the UK are currently at risk of flooding, with the potential for that number to double in the next 50 years. Analysis from The Met Office on weather patterns across the last 60 years also shows that periods of heavy rainfall are on the up: the number of ‘extremely wet days’ was up 17% in the period 2008-2017, compared to 1961-1990.

Fiona Dear, Head of Campaigns at The Climate Coalition, said: “Our homes should be our sanctuaries, places where individuals and families can feel safe and thrive. Unfortunately, rising global temperatures due to climate change are causing more extreme weather patterns and more intense rainfall. This will lead to more properties being exposed to the risk of dangerous, expensive flooding unless we cut emissions, increase protections and adapt faster to impacts.

“Now is the time to take action. During Great Big Green Week, tens of thousands of people across the country have come together and attended community events in a celebration of climate action. We are sending a clear message to the Prime Minister ahead of the United Nations COP26 climate talks in November: we care about nature and climate change, and we need your Government to deliver a clear plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions to limit global heating and stop floods, heatwaves and droughts getting even worse.”

Patrick Begg, Outdoors & Natural Resources Director at the National Trust, commented: “The big flood events we’ve witnessed over the past few years in Cumbria, Yorkshire and the South East, underline the growing risk from climate change to the places we love the most – from the homes we live in, to the heritage we treasure. We’re seeing a stark increase in the amount of our own properties at risk of flooding.

“We’re now working with communities to prepare for these impacts – with measures including slowing the flow of water in flood-prone river valleys and preparing our places, collections, staff and volunteers for the increased heat and humidity. However, greater investment and urgency is needed from the Government, so we support The Climate Coalition’s call for a once-in-a-generation commitment to climate action in the Autumn Spending Review ahead of COP26.”

Earlier this year, The National Trust published new data which revealed how 20,457 of its sites – 30% of its property estate – were under threat from climate change. It also warned that the number could increase to 47,778 properties (71 per cent of its estate) by the year 2060 without action taken to reduce carbon emissions.

Great Big Green Week, which runs until Sunday 26 September, harnesses this sentiment and has seen more than 4,500 community events and festivals being held in communities up and down the country. The theme for this year’s activity is ‘The Fight That Unites’, a declaration that people from all walks of life are united in their desire to tackle the climate emergency and understand the urgency of the challenge.

For more information on Great Big Green Week and to find events in your community, visit www.greatbiggreenweek.com