Frankie Barrett, Sustainability Officer at Glasgow City Council, shares his reflections on Glasgow’s pioneering work to address long-term resilience challenges .
The history of Glasgow presents an extraordinary story of a city that has remained resilient through over 250 years of successive shocks and stresses that have produced massive disparities in income, health and opportunity.
With an ambition to be one of the most sustainable cities in Europe, we are recovering steadily from a post-industrial legacy of social, economic and environmental shock. By drawing on cultural assets, investing in major regeneration programmes and diversifying the business sector, the city has done much to remedy its symptoms as the “sick man of Europe”.
But the journey is not over and our resilience continues to be tested by shifting macroeconomic trends, poverty and deprivation, and health inequalities. We have no choice but to continuously develop our ability to function in the face of challenging situations and recover from disasters.
It is in this light that Glasgow joined the 100 Resilient Cities Network, an initiative pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation. The 100 Resilient Cities Network has provided us with a unique opportunity to reflect on our capacity for managing the known and unknown shocks and stresses that are a growing part of city life. Amongst the most urgent challenges are climate change threats and the need to safeguard the city against long-term climate risks Continue reading
I was invited to speak at the Scottish Federation of Housing Association (SFHA) Property Repairs and Asset Management Conference on 7 October 2014; and also contributed a feature article to the October issue of their magazine Housing Scotland – which I will reproduce below. It is great to see the social housing sector taking an interest in climate adaptation, alongside the many other challenges they are addressing – for example I shared a plenary session with Morton Duedahl who described how Denmark had setup their district heating network.
Housing Scotland (Issue No. 105)
Climate change is happening. The evidence is clear. It is a global problem, but the impact will be felt locally, here in Scotland. In our homes.
The impacts could be serious, exposing homes and their occupants to greater risks, unless action is taken. Although the challenge is significant, with some forethought, it should be possible to prepare our housing stock over the coming decades through ongoing maintenance, responsive repairs and refurbishment programmes. Continue reading
This week the IPCC released “Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability”, the second of three reports that will make up the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). It follows on from last year’s report that laid out the physical science of climate change – which made clear our prospects of facing global temperature increases of more than 2°C – and up to 5°C – over this century.
This new report investigates the consequences of climate change – looking at impacts and vulnerability across the world. However, there is a fundamental shift of emphasis, with a focus now on adaptation – especially given the serious, but uncertain, impacts that we are likely to face as our climate changes.
There is an interesting graphic in the new report, showing the ‘level of additional risk due to climate change’. It is striking that considerable additional risks occur at even the low end (~ 2°C) of expected warming – and these become increasingly widespread and severe if we end up at the higher end of temperature range. Continue reading
‘Policy makers like to talk about helping nature and its benefits but reality can be different’ – especially for those managing tight budgets. Those of us involved in policy do sometimes get a bit carried away with exciting new things and forget the realities, so it was a good reality check at the beginning of one of the Natural Environment Parallel Sessions at the recent Scotland’s Adaptation Conference.
The aim of the two sessions on the day was to inspire and to show that the natural environment not only needs and deserves our support in the face of a changing climate but can be an asset when it comes to adaptation rather than a burden. However, it was clear from participants that despite it being appreciated, nature is not always seen as an important asset. ‘We don’t always make a persuasive argument’ regarding the benefits or ‘the economic case’. Continue reading
Within Sniffer we often say that no one organisation, business or community will be able to build resilience and adapt to climate change on its own. We need others and others need us.
The same is true for the Adaptation Scotland programme. We’re a small team and our effectiveness in supporting a Climate Ready Scotland depends upon others sharing our messages and working with us to carry them forward within different organisations, sectors and communities. In my experience our most impactful work has come about as a result of working with people who have grasped the significance of adapting to climate change and been a driving force for change within their own spheres of influence.
This is particularly true of our work in supporting climate ready communities. Last Wednesday (7th August) we ran a workshop with organisations and individuals from across Scotland who are at the forefront of pioneering early work to support communities to adapt to climate change. We were also joined by others who are new to the challenges of adapting to climate change but wanting to get involved and help move this area of work forwards.
Adaptation Scotland’s presentation on our engagement with communities.
Preparing for the workshop was a good opportunity to reflect on the progress that we’ve made over the last couple of years in supporting climate ready communities. This includes work to develop a programme of workshops to support community adaptation planning, consultation workshops with vulnerable individuals and support groups and, the early development of the Are You Ready? resource. Take a look at our Prezi presentation for a full overview of all the work that has been undertaken.
Accessing relevant climate information has always been a challenge – for a start there is so much of it out there! But a bigger problem is that it has been static in nature – and to explore a range of climate variables it is necessary to look through a book of outputs (e.g. like the still widely used Sniffer Handbook of Climate Trends).
Recent years have seen rapid advances in data visualisation tools – and these are often geared up for the internet, even allowing embedding within existing websites and documents. Alongside this the design options have come along in leaps and bounds – and it is now possible to create attractive and effective data visualisation with relative ease. The Guardian: Data Blog has a collection that is quite inspiring.
So what does this have to do with Adaptation Scotland and climate change? Well today we’ve released our first tool using Tableau Public – a tool for “Climate Trends for Scotland”. This uses data from the Met Office National Climate Information Centre to show Scottish climate trends over the last century – for a range of variables, regions, and averaging periods. Users of this tool can download images and interact with the underlying data (although we still recommend you go to the source if you want the data!). Usefully, Tableau Public allows anyone to embed a live version of this tool in their own website – and you are free to customise it if you want. Continue reading