Businesses urged to prepare for impact of climate change

Climate change isn’t coming to Scotland – it’s already here, warns energy efficiency expert 

A Scottish energy efficiency expert is warning Edinburgh and Glasgow businesses to consider doing more to prepare for the impact of climate change after two major reports have found Scotland already feeling the influence of global warming.
Raj Chall of Scottish Energy Services, which specialises in commercial energy performance certificates in Edinburgh and Glasgow, says two major studies have revealed how Scotland is already seeing the effects of climate change – with thousands of homes, businesses, roads, railway lines at risk of flooding, along with power stations, sewers and farmland. 
He believes companies must thoroughly consider their business needs in light of the “genuine and severe” impact climate change threatens to have on the nation.
Chall points to a Scottish Government study, which has revealed that the rate of coastal erosion around Scotland has doubled since the 1970s, putting vital infrastructure at risk, including:
  • 30,000 buildings
  • 1300km of roads
  • 100 km of railway lines
The study describes the impact of climate-derived erosion as “potentially devastating” and predicts that at least 50 buildings, kilometres of roads and railways and even airport runways could be lost within a generation.
A second report, conducted by the UK Committee on Climate Change has estimated ever-increasing risk of flooding for:
  • Nearly 200,000 Scottish homes
  • 150,000 hectares of farmland – with half of Scotland’s best agricultural land having a “moderate to severe” risk of flooding by 2050
  • Sewers – with a 50% increase in sewer flooding possible in the coming decades – leading to likely restrictions in water use and the possible spread of disease.
The report predicts that summer temperatures in Scotland could soar by up to 4.5 degrees by the 2050s with winter rain increasingly by up to 30 per cent and the sea level around Edinburgh rising by as much as 40cm.
Historic Environment Scotland has also warned how historic buildings and heritage sites – such as Edinburgh Castle and Skara Brae – could also be at risk from climate change as increased rainfall (which has risen by 20% in the last 50 years) damages the fabric of older structures.
Chall has warned that the legislation to formally remove the UK from the European Union could risk undermining environmental progress in the devolved nations, with 80% of Scottish environmental law, including flooding and pollution, originating in the EU.
He said: “Climate Change can often feel a bit of an theoretical concept, or at the very least a long way off, but reports like these really bring it home how it is already having genuine and severe impacts on Scotland’s people, places and nature.
“It’s clear in coming years we have to expect more flooding and more storms, and homes and businesses have to be prepared.
“When it comes to commercial buildings in particular a lot of businesses are content to stick to minimum standards when it comes to things like Section 63 legislation, but not only could they be missing out on considerable savings and benefits for their business they could well be neglecting their business continuity needs.
“If these reports are correct and even power stations are at risk from climate change, companies have to ask themselves profound questions about how they could function in the event of things like sudden or even endemic power shortages – and in particular what steps they can take right now to meet those challenges.
“Owners of commercial buildings, in Glasgow and Edinburgh in particular, have a lot to gain from seeking expert advice from commercial EPC specialists about how they can prepare their premises for the future – and potentially a lot to lose if they don’t.
“There’s no disputing that Scotland is leading the way on climate change with Holyrood’s draft climate change bill committing our country to cutting climate change  by 90% by 2050, but there’s an argument to say that even these impressive ambitions aren’t enough and we should be aiming for 100% sooner.”
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