The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) has called on government to strengthen policies that will support a resilient built environment to mitigate the threats posed by climate change.
Philip Box, Policy Advisor at UKGBC, said the heatwaves and droughts this summer caused widespread harm across the UK, from severe disruptions to transport services, and increased pressure on the NHS, to wildfires causing irreversible damage to homes and communities.
And he said opportunities are on the horizon for ministers to regulate or introduce guidance for the built environment sector in relation to the part it can play in reducing the impact of global warming.
The Environment Agency has suggested the whole of England is at risk to flooding this winter.
“Climate change, along with its hazards, is already here – and we are simply ill-prepared for the impacts it will bring,” said Mr Box.
“The built environment plays a critical role in addressing this; in building our resilience to climate-related risks in the places we live, work and play. It’s essential that we’re able to understand and make our climate risks visible so that effective adaptation plans and actions can be implemented. For example, nature-based solutions such as street trees and green roofs offer an adaptation approach for our cities and built environments to become more resilient – and indeed more biodiverse and healthier places – and should be prioritised.
“Despite small policy improvements towards climate adaptation, the UK Government is yet to take the necessary steps in regulation and planning legislation to make meaningful progress and fully mitigate the risks we face. There are several upcoming opportunities for the government to address this issue, including as it prepares plans for a Future Homes and Building Standard, reforms the English planning system and through putting together a comprehensive plan to upgrade the UK’s existing building stock.
“More positively, climate adaptation is more firmly on the COP agenda than ever before. Through actions such as the Sharm El-Sheikh Adaptation Agenda being launched, we hope this will spur the UK Government into much needed action to build in climate resilience and reduce the UK’s vulnerability to risk.”