The UK National Trust has called on the government to introduce legislation that recognises the importance of adapting buildings, coastlines and countryside to make sure they can cope with the effects of the climate emergency.
The Trust is arguing that a new “Climate Resilience Act” should set targets on preparing for the risk posed by rising temperatures and extreme weather, noting that “urgent and unswerving attention” on the issue is needed.
The conservation charity is to publish a landmark report on Monday setting out the work it is doing to adapt, such as working with landowners to slow the flow of water off hillsides by restoring peatland or plant trees; restoring river flood plains; and even reviving traditional roofing methods that offer older buildings more protection.
Patrick Begg, who is the outdoors and natural resources director at the National Trust, said that it was a pivotal moment. “We’re at a point where we we need to raise a flag,” he said. “We’re living the change. There are some serious, serious impacts happening.”
The report, tagged “A climate for change”, showed that about 70% of the places it cares for could be at “medium or high risk” of climate hazards by 2060.
Begg said: “The National Trust is a canary in the mine and every corner we look in is being affected by climate. Being resilient and thinking ahead has never been more needed. This report is drawing that line in the sand and saying this is the moment where we really need to respond properly.
Among other things, the report recommends that the UK government should commit to bringing in clear legal duties and targets for adaptation in the first session of the next parliament.
This, it says, could include a statutory duty on public bodies to make climate adaptation a vital factor in decision-making across the UK, which it says could be modelled on measures already in place in the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act in Wales. It suggests a minister for climate adaptation either within the Cabinet Office or the Treasury.
Also In Wales, the report is calling for more resources to be made available to Cadw, the Welsh government’s historic environment service. In Northern Ireland, it says there should be a statutory duty for public bodies to plan for coastal change and its longer-term effects on communities, the environment and infrastructure. The report does not touch on Scotland as the charity does not cover the country.
Story was adapted from the Guardian.