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This motion updates and develops policy on adaptation to climate change. In particular it makes new policy on flood defences, long-term planning for extreme weather events and the creation of a National Resilience Plan.
Existing policies on adaptation to climate change are set out in the 2010 general election manifesto, Change That Works for You, and policy paper 82, Towards a Zero-Carbon Britain (2007). Existing policies on flooding are set out in policy motion Managing the Impact and Risk of Flooding (2007).
F19 Adapting to Climate Change in the UK
(Passed with no amendments)
a) The fifth assessment report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which described the impacts of global warming as "severe, pervasive and irreversible".
b) That the impacts of accelerating climate change in the UK include an increase in extreme weather events such as severe winters, heatwaves, flooding from rivers and the sea, and storms and gales, with increased pressure on infrastructure, water supplies and ecosystems.
c) That the 2013-14 winter in the UK saw record heavy rainfall and frequent strong storms - both at least partly caused by climate change - which led to widespread flooding (exacerbated by recent patterns of building and farming) and accompanying disruption to individuals, buildings and infrastructure.
d) That the independent Committee on Climate Change concluded in July 2014 that at current rates of investment in flood defences, flood risks in England will increase, that the risk of overheating in homes, hospitals and care homes is being ignored and that intensive farming is still being supported in areas where the ground needs natural vegetation to soak up rainfall.
Conference believes that while action to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, both in the UK and globally, must remain the government's top priority, urgent attention must also be paid to adapting to the current and future impacts of climate change.
Conference therefore calls for government to:
1. Ensure flood defence spending is kept in line with that needed to protect against climate change impacts; introduce high standards for flood resilience for buildings and infrastructure in flood risk areas and enforce these for new build and major renovations.
2. Implement programmes to help farmers and other land users adapt to climate change impact, including protecting soil and forest carbon sinks, encouraging planting in uplands, and restoring flood plains, with adequate compensation for landowners to put into place 'soft' prevention measures at source rather than relying on 'hard' flood defences downstream.
3. Introduce long-term planning for droughts and floods, building natural resilience to extreme weather, rather than waiting to clean up the damage.
4. Update construction and planning standards to future-proof housing and commercial buildings against higher summer temperatures caused by climate change, protecting people from heat-related deaths and reducing the need for air conditioning; this should include protecting urban trees and green spaces, to mitigate the 'heat island' effect.
5. Encourage local authorities to report annually to their residents on actions taken to protect them from the impacts of climate change, including flood risk management plans.
6. Extend the mandatory greenhouse gas emission reporting rules for large companies to include actions taken on adaptation.
7. Prepare a national resilience plan to help the UK economy, national infrastructure and natural resources adapt to the likely impacts of a 3-4 degree global average temperature rise, building on the work done through the current national adaptation programme; and increase government resources devoted to the research and implementation of climate adaptation strategies.
Applicability: 6 and 7 (lines 46-53) are Federal; the remainder are England only.