2 August 2022

Why UK councils must put climate risk at the top of their agenda


By Cervest

Why UK councils must put climate risk at the top of their agenda

As the recent climate change-driven UK heatwave has demonstrated, UK councils need to prioritize climate risk and take action now. Last month saw major incidents such as wildfires breaking out in London as temperatures hit 40°C for the first time, with the London Fire Brigade having the busiest day since World War II.

Key infrastructures, buildings, and essential services were not prepared for the extreme temperatures. The tarmac melted at Luton airport and the UK rail network now faces a critical review after the country-wide chaos. Regular services were seriously delayed and hundreds of trains and flights were canceled. Companies and schools advised staff to stay at home if possible.

During the heatwave, our Founder and CEO, Iggy Bassi, joined Sky News and BBC World News to share his insight: heatwaves cannot be seen or dealt with as a one-time event but rather as a global trend that comes with severe economic cost.

The intensity and frequency of these events are increasing, and governments, business owners and infrastructure managers must be better prepared and equipped to tackle these dangers. Their economic impact can be felt throughout industries from education to health, to city planning and construction, to farming, travel, financial services and more. Weather and extreme climate events don’t cause disasters, vulnerability does.

“What we are witnessing is that the surface area of risk is expanding - with new regions, cities, countries reaching new thresholds. Our infrastructure is not built to withstand some of the forecasted changes.”

- Cervest, Founder and CEO, Iggy Bassi

UK Councils need to assess their climate risk resilience planning and move the climate crisis to the top of their agenda. The UK is “no longer considered a cold country” and must adapt accordingly. Core infrastructures, buildings, and work and leisure spaces are all exposed to climate risk and the general health and safety of the population could be compromised as the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment clearly illustrates.

Structures and services should now be redesigned using granular, science-backed, climate intelligence (CI). The impact of climate change on our vital infrastructures – for work and play – needs to be considered, adapted for, and planned out, now and for the future.

Working with the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC)

Cervest is a member of the UKGBC and our flagship climate intelligence product, EarthScan™, is registered as one of their positive solutions for building resilience to climate change. The UKGBC is a charity consisting of 600+ member organizations, acting as the voice of the industry. Bringing together the UK building industry, the charity uses sustainability as a transformation catalyst and reinventing daily workplaces the world over.

Launched in 2007, UKGBC was set up to provide direction and collaboration in the sector and to campaign for and educate professionals about sustainable construction. Members collaborate, enable, advocate, and inspire the industry – calling for change, commitment, and progressive policy.

As part of the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) network, the UKGBC has access to a global network of Green Building Councils that are reinventing our work and leisure spaces. At the heart of UKGBC is the belief that with the current climate crisis, green infrastructure must be at the core of our daily activities, supporting the community and allowing them to flourish. This partnership also means members can get a comprehensive education on the best practices, information on big projects, and the chance to attend global climate events.

As a committed member of the UKGBC, Cervest’s climate intelligence experts, Kate Rodger and Charles Shingles attended their AGM on July 20th 2022, where they celebrated the journey and impact they have had since they were founded 15 years ago. It was an event of reflection but also an acknowledgement that the climate emergency remains the most pressing issue facing the built environment. The AGM highlighted that the UKGBC have been able to achieve a huge amount in the past year, noting unprecedented growth in members, education and visibility via COP26 and, setting the direction and pace of change needed to accelerate the uptake of net zero buildings and operations.

Looking forward, they noted the dire need for action to build climate-resilient infrastructure and focus on climate adaptation. We look forward to working closely with the UKGBC members to support their disclosure requirements, adaptation strategies, knowledge sharing and their efforts to becoming more climate-resilient.

Using climate intelligence to adapt to a changing UK climate

EarthScan allows organizations access to crucial climate intelligence across both individual buildings and portfolio level, which is instrumental when reinventing infrastructures in light of the climate crisis. In our survey, 90% of decision-makers said extreme weather affected at least one of their company’s assets in the past five years. However, only half said climate risk was factored into planning. The hard truth is, that one day all business decisions will demand climate intelligence.

In response to UKGBC’s Innovation Challenge we shared how EarthScan can be used to inform decisions that can lead to existing UK buildings becoming resilient to climate change by 2030. EarthScan provides an across-the-board view of climate risk for all assets – from the previous 50 years and 80 years in the future – a granular analysis and a deep insight into the potential of events such as heatwaves and flooding.

The science-backed intel includes locations, timelines, and severity of climate risk. These insights give leaders the information needed to act on their investments and help to make key infrastructures more durable to our changing climate. Using EarthScan as a single source of truth, owners or managers can use this data to inform construction, design, the adaptation of their in-use buildings, and deconstruction of those that no longer provide value, and share this with their partners.

UK Councils need to build resilience to climate change. The first step is getting valuable climate intelligence, and in doing so, the confidence to act in the best interests of any business portfolio. As recent events show, there’s no time to waste when starting to futureproof our infrastructures against climate risk.

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