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What does Climate Change mean for Birmingham

Many of the effects of climate change can already be seen in the UK. Since pre-industrial times, the average temperature of the UK is estimated to have risen by 1.2 degrees with many of our warmest years on record occurring recently:

Climate stripes showing blue lines for colder than average years and red lines for hotter than average years which show how hotter than average years in the UK have become much more frequent since the 1880s

As a result, extreme weather events such as record-breaking heatwaves and flooding are becoming more common. Without action to drastically reduce our carbon dioxide emissions, our winters will continue to become much warmer and wetter whilst summers will be hotter and dryer.

Working with the Environment Agency, Sustainability West Midlands have used these current trends to identify the risks for Birmingham and the West Midlands resulting from climate change. The Sustainability West Midlands report highlights several direct risks to Birmingham:

  • Heatwaves could cause an increase in health-related fatalities due to extreme temperatures.
  • Hotter, dryer Summers could also cause water shortages which would affect energy production, industrial activity, and public access to water.
  • Wildfires in the area around Birmingham could become more common, particularly as there are a number of moorlands prone to wildfires.
  • Flooding could become more common and would carry an additional pollution risk as there are several industrial sites in Birmingham where harmful industrial material and waste could mix with flood water.
  • Average temperature increases could pose threats to Birmingham’s local natural environment such as biodiversity loss, decreasing soil quality, and threats to freshwater species.
  • Extreme weather events could cause cascading failure of infrastructure networks and supply chains.

The report also highlights several indirect risks which could affect Birmingham:

  • Coastal flooding could cause an influx of residents to move to the region and disrupt local estuaries and tributaries in the Midlands.
  • There could be global food scarcity as crop yields fall internationally.
  • There could be increased international violent conflict as a result resource scarcity.

Faced with this threat, we all have a responsibility to lower carbon emissions to a safe level to avoid the worst effects of climate change. The more we can cut our emissions, the more we can slow and eventually stop global average temperature rises and avoid these risks.

Page last updated: 11 November 2022

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