Walthamstow wetlandsThe impacts of climate change may often seem a long way off, but in simple terms they’re just a long term shift in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather. Over the past few years alone, there have been several extreme weather events which have all significantly affected our ability to deliver essential water and wastewater services to our customers, including:
Summer 2018 – joint hottest summer on record
Late February and early March 2018 – ‘The Beast from the East’
October 2016 to March 2017 - the driest period since 1995/96
In 2014 - the wettest English winter since 1766
The floods of 2013/14
In 2012 - the wettest summer for 100 years
Drought in 2010/12
Each of these extreme weather events made delivering the service our customers expect very challenging. Although it is not possible to attribute these weather events to man-made climate change, they represent the type of weather we expect to see more regularly in the future.
We have therefore incorporated learning from these events into our long-term planning to better understand future risk, to increase the longer-term resilience of our services and to ensure that customer bills are no higher than they need to be. It is widely accepted that climate change is a real issue and a major challenge to society. However, it’s almost impossible to predict the extent and timing of its impact.
We believe that a twin track approach of managing the unavoidable impacts of climate change on our business (‘adaptation’), combined with reducing our greenhouse gas emissions (‘mitigation’), is essential if we are to manage the challenges that climate change represents.
An important part of our approach is the need to work with other organisations to develop resilient responses to the impacts of climate change, and to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. We know we can’t do this alone, so we’re continuing to work collaboratively with our customers, employees, partners, suppliers and regulators to create opportunities to better understand what we can do.
We will be posting a blog every day this week to highlight how we’re reducing our contribution to climate change by reducing carbon emissions and how we’ve been adapting to the impact of climate change, with two recent examples - ‘The Beast from the East’ and the joint hottest summer on record.