Builders and homeowners to be called on to take measures against ‘inevitable’ rising temperatures

Green lobbyists have welcomed a move by the government to future-proof the built environment against global warming.

The Climate Change Risk Assessment, to be published by the government this winter, will call on builders and homeowners to prepare their properties for heat, floods and water shortages, as part of a new approach to climate change that accepts rises in temperature are inevitable.

Scientists have warned that greenhouse gases already emitted into the atmosphere will trigger a likely temperature increase of 1ºC, on top of the 0.8ºC rise already noted. If a global treaty on emissions remains unachievable, this could add another 2ºC - and by 2080, the earth could be 4ºC warmer all year round.

The assessment will set out a national adaptation strategy to ensure all new housing, commercial buildings and infrastructure is designed to handle environmental changes associated with global warming.

John Alker, director of policy and communications at the UK Green Building Council, said that “no strategy should be off the table” where climate change is concerned, but added the government should continue to focus on reducing emissions as well as preparing the built environment for a warmer world.

“It would be crazy to give up on mitigation […] there are a host of good reasons for doing it, not least in terms of business benefits, energy security and fuel poverty benefits,” he said.
Alker said that seemingly bizarre proposals should be considered as part of an overall action plan:

“We are going to have to think creatively and radically, and in a way it’s no bad thing that some wacky suggestions are being looked at - but only as part of a strategy in which we’re doing the mundane things as well.”

Possible suggestions include flood defences for houses, as well as heat pumps and water collection screens. Homeowners could also be urged to dig ponds and plant trees in a bid
to aid cooling.