Fylde coast at risk from serious flooding unless global warming is tackled warns report

Global warming is not “someone else’s problem” and if we don’t act now then it will become a major problem for the Fylde coast, with potentially catastrophic flooding.

By Tim Gavell
Wednesday, 11th August 2021, 4:55 am

That is the view of community leaders in the area following a blockbuster international report into climate change and how human activity has fuelled it.

The UN’s AR6 Climate Change report warns that the world will heat up by 1.5C by 2040 – a decade earlier than forecast – and it comes as record heatwaves, wildfires and floods hit countries such as the USA, Greece and Turkey around the world.

It said that for higher temperature rises, the frequency and intensity of weather problems will increase and as temperatures rise the acidity of the oceans will increase.

Storms and coastal flooding are set to get worse unless global warming is stemmed, a new UN report warns

It said that a rise in sea levels approaching two metres by the end of this century ‘cannot be ruled out’, which would flood low-lying coastal communities such as the Fylde coast. This could only be avoided by global action to cut greenhouse gas emissions to stem the temperature rise and slow melting of the ice-caps and stall increased rainfall and storms.

The report pins the blame of human industrial activity, the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrogen dioxide.

It said that, since 1970, global surface temperatures have risen faster than in any other 50-year period in the past 2,000 years.

The Paris agreement on climate change in 2015 committed nations to holding the temperature rise to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, the point where climate change becomes dangerous, but they have already risen by 1.2C.

A map from Climate Control which shows areas of the coast set to flood more by 2040 if no action is taken

The report suggested that severe heatwaves that happened only once in 50 years are now happening once a decade, and that most land areas see more rain or snowfall in a year and conversely severe droughts are happening 1.7 times as often.

And it warns that many changes will be ‘irreversable’ while others will take a century to turn around.

Locally, if the sea levels rise, low lying areas of the Lancashire coast will face increased flooding.

One environmentalist group, Climate Control based in the US warns if nothing is done, then by 2040 some areas will face severe flooding every year, including areas around Blackpool and the Fylde and areas near the rivers Wyre and Ribble.

Global warming will power heavier rain and more frequent floods and storms if the nations of the world do not act, the UN report says

Shaun Turner, Lancashire County Council cabinet member for environment and climate change, said: “The UN report paints a shocking picture of the consequences of climate change if the world carries on its current trajectory, and it’s vitally important that this spurs governments into immediate action as the report also sets out that it is in our hands to halt the rise in temperatures if we reach net zero carbon quickly enough.

“We must not fall into the trap of thinking that others will deal with climate change. This is a problem for all of us and we all have a part to play in terms of a response - both individually and collectively.

“The county council is already working with partners at a strategic level on the emerging Greater Lancashire Plan to identify the actions we need to take to begin decarbonising our economy, along with opportunities to help our economy through this transition, such as the county’s potential to generate renewable energy.

“This work will also assess the current condition of Lancashire’s environment, and how it has changed over recent decades, as well as any actions we need to take to make our infrastructure resilient to the impacts of climate change.

Swapping fossil fuels for renewable energy will help. Here we see the Walney windfarm off the Lancashire coast

“The county council’s cabinet recently approved a £2.7m programme of work to understand how we can decarbonise our buildings, assets and activities, along with a package of investment to implement low carbon technologies at our key business development sites, and a grant scheme to help businesses meet the costs of retrofitting their buildings to be more carbon-neutral.

“There’s a great deal of work to do, but I’m pleased that Lancashire has already set out on the path we need to take to respond to the pressing climate emergency.”

Ian White, from Blackpool hoteliers association Stay Blackpool, said: “The threat of sea levels rising due to global warming is a worry as the predictions would wipe out the town despite the sea wall and defences that were significantly improved just a few years ago.

“We are listening and monitoring organisations such as Green Tourism and will share information, so our members can play their small part when it comes to reducing carbon footprints of the sector.

“We recognise that every one must play their small part as this is not someone else’s problem.”

He said every little could help and he praised the efforts of Blackpool Transport for in investing in the latest most environmentally friendly buses and the trams. He added that the electrification of the Blackpool-Preston rail network was also a step in the right direction and with the bonus of new trains which make getting here far easier and greener.

Jane Hugo, Blackpool Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Change said: “The council recognises that action must be taken to stop detrimental climate change.

“Blackpool declared a climate emergency in 2019. In doing this, we recognised the impact of climate change around the world and declared that we must take action in Blackpool.

“We committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions and 100 per cent clean energy use by 2030 and have developed and implemented a significant number of initiatives and projects to help deliver this goal.

“There is a huge amount of action being undertaken within the council and with partners. Just a few examples include working closely with local authorities in Lancashire to help households access funding for energy-related improvements to their homes.

“In addition, the Grange Park housing development includes plans for providing more sustainable homes through improved energy efficiency, and the addition of biodiverse green space through meadow grassland, fruit trees and the retention of hedges and trees.

“But we can’t fix the climate emergency alone.

“The council only has control over a small proportion of the overall carbon footprint so we need everyone in Blackpool to help. Council services, businesses and residents all need to work together to make a real change.

“We have set up a climate action partnership for Blackpool involving councillors, residents, young citizens, businesses and climate experts as the input of businesses and residents into how we tackle the climate emergency is crucial.

“Earlier this year we held our first digital climate assembly involving Blackpool residents who heard from a wide range of expert speakers on how Blackpool can tackle carbon emissions locally.

“The recommendations agreed by the climate assembly will help shape the basis of Blackpool’s plan for the climate emergency over the next ten years.

“This year also saw a Blackpool Youth summit organised to engage young people and emphasise the important role that they have to play in tackling climate change.

“The devastating impact of climate change both here in the UK and across the world are becoming more and more worrying.

“There have been an increasing number of news reports detailing catastrophic fires and floods caused by global warming.

“It is imperative that we take action and do all we can to tackle this issue right now.

“We all have a role to play with this global issue and local people can find out more about what we are doing and the climate actions that they can take themselves on the council website.”

Connor Schwartz, climate lead at Friends of the Earth, which supported Fylde residents in opposing proposed greenhouse-gas producing fracking developments near Blackpool, said: “Every fraction of a degree now matters more than ever.

“Loud wake-up calls have been sounding for years but world leaders have chronically over-slept, and people are paying the price with their lives.

“If we want a habitable planet, the window is just about still open, that’s today’s report in a nutshell.

“If the government wants to show they respect the world’s leading scientists on climate chaos, they can start by cancelling the Cambo oil field, scrapping the proposed new coal mine in Cumbria, and ending UK funding for the mega-gas project in Mozambique: they can do that today.”

Andy Brown, the Environment Agency’s area flood and coastal risk manager for Lancashire said: “Alongside Local Authorities and partners, we have made great progress in the last six years to reduce flood risk across Lancashire. This includes completion of major schemes such as Fairhaven to Church Scar, Lancaster and Croston, all of which are helping to bring peace of mind to communities.

“However, with the climate emergency bringing more extreme weather, we must now redouble our efforts to make our communities more resilient in the future.

“We know there is more to do, which is why we are investing more than £82m in over 100 new flood and coastal erosion schemes across Cumbria and Lancashire in 2021/22, to protect thousands more people, homes and businesses.”

Steve Cox, engineering and technical director at Electricity North West, said: “This report from the IPCC makes it clear that we need to act urgently to tackle climate change. As the network operator, we know the scale of the challenge ahead and are committed to investing in the network to ensure that there’s capacity for the North West to adopt the changes needed to achieve its ambitious targets.

“As a business, we have a responsibility to play our part and that’s why we’ve set ourselves the target to achieve net zero by 2038.”

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