Adapting to Climate Change
Recognising how climate change will affect our lives and how we can effectively respond to it
Target: To be defined
Why this theme?
We are in a climate emergency. Climate change is happening and the West Midlands is experiencing its impact, just as other areas around the world are. We are seeing more extreme weather events such as flooding and heatwaves, which cause huge impacts on the way we live our lives by affecting supply chains, damaging infrastructure, and putting pressure on health services. We are wedded to a certain degree of climatic change and are arguably already at a point where we are unable to reverse some of the effects. It is for this reason why we must be prepared for an ever-changing environment and adapt the way we live. We can no longer ignore the issue or hide behind it’s inconvenience.
Development of the target
SWM is working hard to establish a credible target for this area given the urgent rate at which we need to adapt our people, assets and environment to a changing climate. We have consulted with the Environment Agency on obtaining flood risk data, which we will continue to do, and also wish to establish data on health related issues caused by extreme heat. We commit to ascertaining the accessibility of these datasets to establish targets in 2020.
What our Members are doing
Staffordshire County Council was part of the ‘Floods Happen… Be Prepared’ project, also with Civil Contingencies Unit and the Environment Agency and other partners, which took place at three schools across Burton and Tamworth between May and July 2018, engaging a total of 440 students. They encouraged students and parents to make sure they know their flood risk and are ready for flood events, through the use of flood awareness sessions. This included information and demonstrations on how they could prepare themselves and the community on how best to reduce the impact of the flood. This involved information on how to check their flood risk as well as what a ‘grab bag’ is. By the end of the session, student preparedness on flood based scenarios had increased from just 30% before the sessions to 96% by the end. Also, before the sessions only 19% knew what a ‘grab bag’ was, and after the sessions this rose to 88%. This benefit is a huge success for children and their parents of important knowledge. Following on from this successful event the school has implemented both how to prepare for and respond to flood situation into their Year 7 curriculum for the future.
The Environment Agency is leading on responding to and addressing flood risk across the country, including in the West Midlands. This is more than just about dredging rivers or building flood defences, it is also about working with communities to ensure they are prepared and able to respond. One way the EA is doing this is by implementing a Strategic Community Engagement Plan that aims to help the organisation effectively target communities at risk of flooding. SWM has supported this work by running a workshop in 2017 that brought together members of the various EA teams into one place so that they could all feed in their ideas and perspectives; knowledge on this subject is embedded within different departments and so this exercise enabling the sharing of experience around issues such as vulnerable locations, at-risk people and possible solutions.