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
This lunchtime I took a short detour from the rigours of adaptation planning and took myself off to a creative writing and poetry workshop at the Lighthouse in Glasgow.
It was amazing and, as often happens it brought me right back to thoughts of resilience building, future and legacy.
The workshop centred on a beautiful Britain From Above photography exhibition which shows amazing aerial photography of Glasgow and the Clyde Valley taken during the early 1900’s. The photo below doesn’t do it justice – if you are in Glasgow I’d highly recommend a visit.
The other people taking part in the workshop knew the areas shown in the photos very well and talked about their experiences of living and working in the places shown, many of which are barely recognisable today. Their reflections on the photos were powerful – they were looking for reference points – places that had stood the test of time and still existed in the present day. They reflected on memories of what it felt like to live and work in the areas shown. You can listen to some of the poems and reflections here Continue reading
At an event in London on 15th October, speakers from BusinessGreen and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) reinforced the message that while many businesses have thought about their future climate risks, only a small proportion has implemented any arrangements to manage them. This is hardly surprising given competing strategic priorities, limited time and money, and a lack of understanding of the need to do anything.
So what can organisations do for starters? Speaking at the event, Munish Datta (Head of Property for Plan A, Marks and Spencer) and John Mackenzie (UK Gas Transmission Asset Engineering Manager, National Grid) asserted the fundamental need for organisations to embed climate change adaptation on their corporate risk register, look at future climate threats and opportunities, put in place plans to manage their priority risks and integrate these with their business model or corporate strategies. Continue reading
There is broad scientific consensus on climate change. What we need now is change – a transformation that responds to the scale of the challenge we actually face. Perhaps a ‘Campaign Climate’ that brings in the grassroots is a way forward?
This week the IPCC released its report ‘Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis’, the first in a series of reports that will make up the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). This brings the IPCC process up-to-date with advances in climate science since the release of the last report (AR4) in 2007. The evidence base continues to strengthen and it provides unequivocal evidence of our warming climate system (our news update covers a few key points)
So where to next? Well, this is just the start of the Fifth Assessment Report cycle – which culminates in the ‘Synthesis Report’ in October next year. So most immediately there’s still a long way to go in the AR5 cycle, including the next IPCC report on ‘Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability’ which will be released at the end of March 2014. As the title suggests, this will be of particular relevance to those of us working in the adaptation community – it’s also an area that has seen considerable development since the last report in 2007. 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