Impacts of climate change
Climate change matters to Northamptonshire because it will affect how people live and many of the key local services we use, as well as the environment that we enjoy. Not all of these changes will be negative, but coping with some may be challenging. The following possible impacts of climate change have been predicted for the county:
- Increased risk of flooding and severe weather.
- Less water for domestic and other uses
- Poorer working conditions with greater demand for cooling causes higher energy use
- Higher risk of skin cancer/sun burn due to hotter summers and increased outdoor recreation.
- Heat stress to the old, poor and vulnerable people likely to increase.
- Subsidence damage to buildings
- Biofuel crops
- New food crops/ garden plants hence new markets
- Environmental technology markets
- Increased income from tourism
Adapting to climate change
The UK Climate Change Impacts Programme explains that while it is essential to reduce future greenhouse gas emissions, the effects of past emissions will continue to be felt for a long time.
In Northamptonshire this could lead to:
- a climate of wetter milder winters, drier hotter summers
- greater risks of extreme events such as heat waves, high winds and heavy rainfall
- having less water and higher temperature extremes
Preparing for these changing conditions is called 'adaptation'.
Examples of adaptation
Adaptation to climate change can be preventive, reactive or emergency adaptation. It is best to take preventive action if possible.
- Design buildings that keep an even temperature without air conditioning
- Implement measures to reduce risk of flooding/mitigate impact
- Raise awareness of dangers of skin cancer and preventative methods
- Use air conditioning in hot conditions (although this will increase both cost and CO2 emissions).
- Home/ flexible working to enable staff to enable staff to work when unable to travel to the office.
- Ensure appropriate shade and water is available in hot conditions.
- Close buildings because of excess heat or flooding
- Ensure emergency services are trained and have the capacity to deal with the consequences of extreme weather events.
What Councils are doing in Northamptonshire
Local authorities and other partners have been working together on tackling the potential impact of climate change. Local Climate Impacts Profiles have been drawn up for each local authority in the county. These assess the impacts of climate change on council activities over the last decade, and makes recommendations for future action.
Climate Change Risk Assessments have also been done for all local authorities. These identify the potential implications for council services from a changing climate and highlights possible adaptations to be considered in future council practices, policies and decision-making.
See South Northamptonshire Council Climate Change Strategy for details.