Climate change: ‘no time for delay and no room for excuses’

Image above: Chiswick Mall spring tide; photograph Ian Wylie

As London experiences torrential rain in monsoon proportions and fierce wildfires take over parts of Greece and California, climate scientists report that human activity is changing the climate in unprecedented and sometimes irreversible ways and we are just ten years away from a major tipping point.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), supported by governments around the world, have issued a ‘code red for humanity’. The landmark study warns of increasingly extreme heatwaves, droughts and flooding, but they still say that if the world acts fast to make deep cuts in emissions of greenhouse gases, we could could stabilise rising temperatures.

UN Secretary General António Guterres said:

“If we combine forces now, we can avert climate catastrophe. But, as today’s report makes clear, there is no time for delay and no room for excuses. I count on government leaders and all stakeholders to ensure COP26 is a success.”

The UK will host COP 26 – the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties – in Glasgow from 31 October – 12 November 2021.

READ ALSO: Full BBC coverage of the IPCC report

Chiswick projected to be flooded regularly by 2030

As far as Chiswick is concerned, we could be underwater by 2030, according to mapping carried out by climate forecaster Climate Central, showing the effect of rising sea levels.

Image above: Climate Central map of west London in 2030

The image above is a map of west London by Climate Central, showing current water level in blue and the area that could be regularly under water by 2030 if nothing is done. Chiswick, Hammersmith and Fulham will be flooded regularly according to this projection.

Thames Estuary 2100 Plan

There is a Thames Estuary Plan, setting out how the Environment Agency and other organisations can work together to minimise the tidal flood risk in the Thames Estuary. The Thames Estuary 2100 Plan aims to protect the 1.4 million people, £320 billion worth of property and critical infrastructure at risk.

In Phase One, between 2012 and 2035, the Plan includes the maintainance and improvement of current flood risk management assets such as walls, gates, embankments and pumps. It aims to identify and protect land needed for future improvements to flood defences and monitor how the estuary is changing.

Phase Two, between 2035 and 2050, is supposed to see the Environment Agency raising existing flood walls and embankments, reshaping the riverside through development, and determining the preferred option for the future Thames Barrier.

Image above: Climate Central map of the whole of London in 2030

On current planning, developing and implementing the selected option for the future Thames Barrier is not due to happen until after 2050.

‘The Thames Barrier is expected to continue to protect London to its current standard up until 2070’ according to the Plan.

An updated Plan is promised for 2022. A report published in February 2021 listed among the ‘immediate next steps’:

‘prioritising defences that are below their required condition for maintenance.

‘We will carry out enhanced inspections in locations where we know erosion is occurring to detect and remedy any impacts on defences as soon as possible… We will also identify which areas of the estuary require future investment in flood defences and when we need to invest’.

Meanwhile one of the key findings of today’s IPCC report was: ‘The recent rate of sea level rise has nearly tripled compared with 1901-1971’.

The scientists have modelled a likely range of outcomes for different levels of emissions. They say a rise of around 2m by the end of this century cannot be ruled out – and neither can a 5m rise by 2150.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Flash floods cause travel and business disruption in Chiswick

See also: Gap opens along the tow path at Strand on the Green

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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