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|Future British homes may have to be
built on stilts, people will have to recycle water and we'll have to
get better at conserving energy if our growing cities are to cope
with global warming, say researchers.
In a report for the Tyndall
Centre for Climate Change Research, scientists have outlined how
cities will need to prepare for increased flooding, rising
temperatures and summer droughts as they continue to grow.
The report is the result of three years' work to figure out how
Britain's cities can expand, as well as reduce carbon dioxide (CO2)
emissions and plan for the threats of climate change.
'Most importantly we need to cut our CO2 emissions, but we also have
to prepare for extremes of weather - heat waves, droughts and
flooding - which we're already starting to see,' says Dr Richard
Dawson from Newcastle University, one of the report's authors.
Scientists, led by Professor Jim Hall from Newcastle University,
used state-of-the-art climate models at the Met Office to analyse
how global warming will affect a growing city such as London.
As well as recommending that we prepare our homes and buildings for
the growing risk of floods from rising sea levels, the report's
authors say we should cut CO2 emissions, reduce water use and use
greener forms of transport.
Although the project focussed on London, the authors say its results
can be applied to any British city.
'The UK has agreed to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by an
average of eight per cent of 1990 levels by 2012, which means we're
going to have to re-think our energy systems, transport and how we
design the built environment,' says Dawson.
Researchers have calculated that up to 80 per cent of global carbon
dioxide emissions come from urban areas. London alone is responsible
for eight per cent of the UK's CO2 emissions.
And with the city's population predicted to rise by nearly one
million by 2016 to 8.1 million, its CO2 emissions are set to rise if
we don't change our habits.
As the climate warms, scientists have predicted that urban areas
will be vulnerable to flooding by rivers, the sea or intense
downpours. Other threats include heat waves, poor air quality and
The researchers found that by the 2050s, a third of London's summers
may be hotter than the Met Office heat wave temperature threshold.
'There's not a simple solution to this problem. We need a portfolio
of measures that work together to minimise the impact of climate
change whilst allowing for our cities to grow,' says Hall, the lead
author of the report.
'Taking steps to reduce our demand for energy, transport and water
tend to be more cost effective than measures to increase supply,'
'Good planning is the key - we have shown that land-use planning
influences how much people travel and how they heat and cool their
buildings, and hence CO2 emissions,' he adds.