Can we talk about climate change now?

Oxford residents demonstrate in the floods

Oxford residents demonstrate in the floods

Everyone is talking about the floods so here is our contribution.

Our hearts go out to everyone whose lives are being devastated by the current floods. I am sure we all welcome the Prime Minister’s promise to everything he can to help, both with the relief effort and in building a more resilient country for the future.

We hope the Prime Minister will take seriously the warnings of the Met Office and his own advisers that climate change will lead to more such events in the future.

And we hope that “doing everything he can” will include reversing cuts to the Environment Agency budget and giving proper funding for flood prevention, as well as removing tax breaks for fossil fuels.

Cllr Essex had a letter published in the Evening Standard this week, and we’ve copied the text below.

“It is a tragedy that we have wasted the last 20 years debating whether climate change exists, when instead we should have been planning how we will cope with it and avoid it becoming even more destructive.

“We need more funding for flood defences, and to reverse cuts to the Environment Agency. The UK is installing disaster preparedness systems in Bangladesh and across Africa – we need those here too, so people and their possessions are evacuated in time.

“But there is a limit to how much difference these measures can make. When the ground is already sodden and the Thames Barrier closed to stop other areas flooding, when the river reaches capacity, the water still has to go somewhere.

“We need to stop building on London’s floodplain. There are alternatives:  higher density suburbs, like Barcelona and Paris, and even better, a national plan to take the pressure of the south east and breathe vitality back into struggling ex-industrial communities elsewhere.

“Owen Paterson should accept his failure to act and resign – he just isn’t up to the job of protecting the environment.  And we need a sensible government which will work with the affected communities and start planning ahead for a climate in which extreme weather events will be more frequent and severe.”

Read the letter on the Evening Standard website

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