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Climate Change

Volume 691: debated on Tuesday 24 April 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What estimate they have made of the impact that carbon emission-limiting measures currently in force in the United Kingdom will have in reducing the risks of sea flooding between the present date and 2030. [HL3170]

In 2004 the Government’s Foresight report Future Flooding estimated that, with climate change impacts and increased economic wealth, annual average flood damages could rise between two and 20 times by the end of the century. However, there is still considerable uncertainty about the extent of these changes.

The UK produces a relatively small proportion of global carbon emissions and domestic efforts alone will not have a significant effect on coastal flood risk in England between now and 2030. National action must be part of a much bigger international strategy.

A certain amount of climate change is now inevitable over the next few decades: we need to plan for and adapt to this. Climate scientists broadly agree that the UK is likely to face rising sea levels and more frequent floods and storms. For example, the Thames Barrier is already being used around five times a year; by 2030 we expect it to be closing up to 30 times a year. In addition, we need to minimise the effects of dangerous climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Defra has for many years provided guidance to the Environment Agency, local authorities and internal drainage boards to help them take account of climate change impacts in the design of present-day flood and coastal erosion risk management measures.