Adapting to Climate Change
Recognising how climate change will affect our lives and how we can effectively respond to it
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 (record breaking temperatures in July 2022), 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 its inconvenience. SWM’s response to this was to publish the first ever West Midlands Climate Change Adaptation Plan in 2021, which aims to catalyse a response to this uncomfortable truth.
Target: To be defined
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.
What our Members are doing
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 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.
Since then, SWM have collaborated with the Environment Agency to develop the West Midlands Climate Change Adaptation Plan. Alongside this we have launched a West Midlands Climate Change Adaptation Working Group, containing key organisations and members who can help to drive forward action. We are continuing this collaboration by refreshing various guidance documents too, including for businesses, local authorities, the NHS and the agricultural sector, so that they can become more resilient to climate impacts.
Accelar are proactive SWM members and are one of the few SMEs based in our region who have expertise in climate adaptation. Primarily, they have worked with Midlands Connect to provide a strategic climate resilience review of the transport network in the region, to determine where the risks are, what this could result in and what could be done about it. They use practitioner experience alongside data analysis to provide results and expertise on adaptation to clients through their acra programme.
They have also worked with SWM on a project supporting the West Midlands Combined Authority on their adaptation journey. They led on the data analysis and interpretation elements of the work to provide an accessible overview of climate risks and impacts in the region to inform policy and decision makers. They also used their expertise on adaptation finance to provide a summary of funding options for implementation.