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Impacts of climate change on Surrey

There is scientific agreement that activities such as burning fossil fuels and changes in land use have already caused an increase in levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and impacted the climate system. At a local level, this is resulting in trends of weather patterns that are more variable, with more frequent extremes.

Key messages for climate change risks for the South East of England include:

Businesses:

  • an increase in the frequency and severity of flooding causing damage and affecting business continuity
  • overheating of buildings affecting staff productivity

Health and wellbeing:

  • Disruption to health, social care and emergency management services and schools provision, from flooding, heatwaves and storms
  • Excess deaths and illness from overheating

Buildings and infrastructure:

  • Increased disruption, given that even minor incidents test the capacity of our infrastructure today and climate change is likely to exacerbate this.

Agriculture and forestry:

  • Stresses on woodlands and forest resources, via water stress and pests and diseases.
  • Changes in growing conditions such as warmer, longer growing seasons may make new crops more viable, as well as making existing ones less viable.

Natural environment:

  • Impact on biodiversity of habitats and species which are valued for the services they provide such as water and air purification, as well as their intrinsic value.
(Source: A Summary of Climate Change Risks for South East England, 2012)

Public services must be proactive in understanding the implications of climate change and planning for more resilient services, communities and infrastructure. Businesses are also taking action to ensure their continued viability and competitiveness.

Many activities are underway to better prepare the council and Surrey communities, in relation to risks from climate change. These including our role as Lead Local Flood Authority for Surrey.

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