Policy Document: Young People’s Concerns and Recommendations for Climate Change Adaptation in Wales. Eric W Pritchard Jeanette Reis Tara Thrupp May 2011. Executive Summary
Young People’s Concerns and Recommendations for Climate Change Adaptation in Wales
Eric W Pritchard
Climate change concerns of pupils from King Henry VIII and Blaengwawr Comprehensive School, March 2011.
Future intentions proposed by pupils from King Henry VIII and Blaengwawr Comprehensive School, March 2011.
Executive Summary 2
1. Introduction 6
2. State of the Art: What Do We Know About Climate Change Science in
Wales, and What Are the Issues We Foresee? 8
3. Why Are Young People’s Perspectives Required for Climate Change
Adaptation Policies? 10
4. Views About Transport 11
5. Views About Critical Infrastructure 12
6. Views About Settlement 13
7. Views About Responsibility 14
8. Conclusions 15
This document has been produced by the Beacons Young People’s Climate Change Project (YoCCo). We would like to thank our funders, the Beacons Programme for Wales1, Countryside Council for Wales2 and the INTERREG IVb IMCORE project3 for supporting this work. We would also like to thank the teachers and pupils of schools for their ideas and enthusiasm.
Schools that participated in this work were as follows:
Barry Comprehensive School, Barry
Penglais Comprehensive School, Aberystwyth
Ysgol Tryfan, Bangor
Gowerton Comprehensive School, Swansea
King Henry VIII School, Abergavenny
Blaengwawr Comprehensive School, Aberdare.
3 Innovative Management for Europe's Changing Coastal Resource (IMCORE):
In addition, the Welsh Assembly Government “Climate Change Strategy: Consultation on a Programme of Action”5 recognises that:
‘As a result of the greenhouse gas emissions that have already been emitted, we can not avoid the impacts of climate change entirely. We need to adapt to the changes that we cannot avoid, but we have to continue to reduce emissions at the same time or the impacts will be even worse’.
It also recommends that:
‘The earlier Wales starts to prepare – by understanding our vulnerability to the impacts of climate change and increasing the resilience to these impacts – the better equipped we will be to cope in the future’.
The issues young people were asked to explore are particularly relevant to the evidence base and to the Climate Change Strategy for Wales.
5 Climate Change Strategy: Consultation on a Programme of Action Summary Version July 2009 http://wales.gov.uk/docs/desh/consultation/090625climateactionsummaryen.pdf
Young people responding to the evidence base
change science in Wales, and what are the issues we foresee?
If today’s young people are to prepare for the future, they need clear, accurate, balanced information. Given the broad spectrum and questionable validity of information already available, the workshop team began by setting the scene, presenting best available climate change science and what a changing climate might mean for people living in Wales.
The information presented at workshops was initially collated by researchers at Cardiff University based on UK Climate Predictions6. In all cases, medium emissions scenarios were assumed (i.e. levels of future greenhouse gases released via human activities continue to increase at the current rate).
Care was taken to discuss where uncertainty exists. For example, it is very difficult to project levels of future greenhouse gas emissions, the science is still developing and natural variation is also occurring alongside human induced climate change.
Young people need clear, accurate, balanced information. However, there remains some uncertainty about model projections.
If we continue to release greenhouse gases at the current rate, scientists estimate that by the year 2095, sea levels in Wales could have risen by 35cms in the north and 50cms in the south.
By the 2080s average temperatures in Wales could increase by up to 4 ˚C. Increases are likely to be greatest in summermonths.
2020s 2050s 2080s
Data based on medium emissions scenario
> 3 - 4 ˚C
> 2-3 ˚C
> 1-2 ˚C
By the 2080s summer rainfall may reduce by up to 30% in parts of Central and South Wales and up to 40% in parts of West Wales.
By the 2080s winter rainfall may have increased by up to 30% in South and West Wales, particularly along the coast.
Young people discussed risks of increased temperatures, rainfall and sea levels on road, rail and shipping infrastructure. Flooding was considered to be the most significant risk to transport systems in Wales. This included inland and coastal flooding.
It was proposed that there could be a need to elevate or move road and rail links, build embankments or bridges. Rail and associated mass transit systems such as monorail were seen as viable commuting systems in the future, although young people also concluded that walking, cycling and working from home to avoid commuting might also be popular options.
There was an interest in taking to the water in hovercraft, water-taxis, boats and amphibious vehicles, showing that to some people sea level rise could be seen as an opportunity rather than a problem!
Of course if an area is flooded there are three options, travelling around the water, through the water and over the water. For the latter option, some respondents did expect widespread use of personal aircraft to be a reality by 2060.
Coastal and inland flooding is considered to be the most significant risk to transport systems in Wales.
Critical infrastructure, such as energy supply lines, power stations and communication systems were considered to be particularly at risk from coastal and inland flooding, as well as from temperature change. In particular, young people were concerned that settlement separated from distribution centres by areas prone to flooding may have to learn to live with power interruptions.
It was considered that there could be a need to move power lines, even before 2040, to avoid interruptions to energy supply caused by localised flooding. Renewable energy (wind, tidal, hydro-electric) and nuclear energy were the main proposals for large scale energy production, with supplemental micro-generation, such as solar photo-voltaic panels and domestic wind turbines.
Community-based systems were also favoured, including geothermal, local wind farm and biomass power generation. A proposal to hook up a generator to the local gym was suggested as a way of delivering energy to the community whilst keeping fit!
Interruptions to power supplies are of particular concern.
Individual houses, villages, towns and cities in Wales were considered to be at risk, particularly from inland and coastal flooding. Future living conditions were also considered to be potentially uncomfortable or even dangerous to the elderly or long-term sick, particularly during the summer months. It was foreseen that the issues of 2040 could be met by reasonable adaptation, but more inventive approaches would be needed by 2060.
The young people saw a need to adapt to increasing risk of flooding by maintaining a local supply of sandbags, improving drainage systems, wet-proofing houses, installing valves to stop backflow through drains, raising the level of electrical sockets, and in some cases, raising houses above water levels. In addition to measures for individual dwellings, some discussed the possibility of protecting settlements via flood defence structures or moving entire villages to higher ground. One participant suggested the possibility of developing “houseboat villages”.
Among options discussed for adapting to increased temperatures were the painting of houses in light reflective colours, planting trees to provide natural shade and in some circumstances, installing air conditioning systems.
Settlement issues faced in 2040 could be met by existing technology, however, more inventive approaches would be required by 2060.
Young people were aware of the risks of living in the coastal zone and the need to adapt, but considered that national and local governments had given permission for houses to be built in risk prone areas, so should therefore accept partial responsibility and provide assistance in the form of financial and technical support to assist individuals and communities adapt. Since adaptation to the effects of climate change was seen as a national problem, some young people suggested the establishment of a central fund which could be allocated to local councils to develop practical resources and education programmes.
Young People Debating Settlement Options in 2080
Young people consider that responsibility for adapting to the risks posed by climate change should be shared between individuals, communities and government.
Dr Rhoda Ballinger (BallingerRC@cardiff.ac.uk)
Dr Jeanette Reis (ReisJ@cardiff.ac.uk)
Tara Thrupp (ThruppT@cardiff.ac.uk)
School of Earth & Ocean Sciences, Cardiff University, Main Building, Park Place, Cardiff CF10 3YE.
Project website http://www.severnestuary.net/yocco/index.html