Slide 1

Report
Policy Document:
Young People’s Concerns and
Recommendations for Climate
Change Adaptation in Wales
Eric W Pritchard
Jeanette Reis
Tara Thrupp
May 2011
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Executive Summary
The young people of today are the policy-makers of tomorrow and as such, it is
vital that they are well informed and are given the opportunity to contribute to
decision-making processes that will directly affect their future.
This document summarises the conclusions drawn from a series of workshops
held across Wales, involving young people aged 15-16 years. In particular, it
emphasizes young people’s responses to three realistic climate change
scenarios, based on research collated by Cardiff University. Participants
explored transport, critical infrastructure and settlement issues associated with
temperature, rainfall and sea level change for the present day, in the year 2040
and in the year 2060. As well as identifying risks, young people were asked to
explore options for adaptation and discuss issues of responsibility.
KEY POINTS:
1. The issues young people were asked to explore are particularly relevant to
the evidence base and to the Climate Change Strategy for Wales
2. It is widely recognised that early engagement and dialogue offers the best
opportunity for successful adaptation. This document provides a first step in
involving young people in Welsh climate change adaptation policy-making
3. Young people need clear, accurate, balanced information. However, there
remains some uncertainty about model projections
4. Young people consider that responsibility for adapting to the risks posed by
climate change should be shared between individuals, communities and
government
5. Coastal and inland flooding is considered to be the most significant risk to
transport systems in Wales according to young people
6. Interruptions to power supplies are a particular concern of young people
7. Young people consider that settlement issues in 2040 could be met by
existing technology. However, they suggest the need for more inventive
approaches by 2060
8. Additional emphasis needs to be placed on educating and equipping young
people to adapt to a changing climate
9. Young people have a lot to contribute in terms of ideas and practical
implementation. It is now up to the Welsh Government to hear, engage and
respond to their messages and further include them in deciding their future.
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Climate change concerns of pupils from King Henry VIII and
Blaengwawr Comprehensive School, March 2011.
Future intentions proposed by pupils from King Henry VIII and
Blaengwawr Comprehensive School, March 2011.
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Contents
Executive Summary
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Contents
4
Acknowledgements
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1. Introduction
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2. State of the Art: What Do We Know About Climate Change Science in
Wales, and What Are the Issues We Foresee?
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3. Why Are Young People’s Perspectives Required for Climate Change
Adaptation Policies?
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4. Views About Transport
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5. Views About Critical Infrastructure
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6. Views About Settlement
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7. Views About Responsibility
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8. Conclusions
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Acknowledgements
This document has been produced by the Beacons Young People’s Climate
Change Project (YoCCo). We would like to thank our funders, the Beacons
Programme for Wales1, Countryside Council for Wales2 and the INTERREG IVb
IMCORE project3 for supporting this work. We would also like to thank the
teachers and pupils of schools for their ideas and enthusiasm.
Schools that participated in this work were as follows:
Barry Comprehensive School, Barry
Penglais Comprehensive School, Aberystwyth
Ysgol Tryfan, Bangor
Gowerton Comprehensive School, Swansea
King Henry VIII School, Abergavenny
Blaengwawr Comprehensive School, Aberdare.
1
http://www.engagingwales.org/
www.ccw.gov.uk/
3
Innovative Management for Europe's Changing Coastal Resource (IMCORE):
http://www.severnestuary.net/sep/imcore/index.html
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1. Introduction
Scientific evidence supporting arguments for climate change is strengthening
and it is looking more and more likely that today’s young people will have to
make major lifestyle changes in the future. The young people of today are also
the policy-makers of tomorrow and as such, it is vital that they are well
informed and are given the opportunity to contribute to decision-making
processes that will directly affect their future.
This document has been prepared to present the views of young people in
Wales to policy makers and politicians involved in the climate change debate. It
summarises the responses collated from a series of school workshops that took
place in 2010 and 2011, organised by Cardiff University, the Wales Youth Forum
for Sustainable Development and the Severn Estuary Partnership.
During workshops, 160 young people aged 15-16 years were asked to explore a
number of future scenarios for Scott, an imaginary character, who lives in a low
lying coastal settlement, typical of many small towns in Wales. During his
lifetime, he has to identify and consider adaptation options for transport,
critical infrastructure and settlement, taking into account a changing climate.
Scenarios were developed that took into account Welsh temperatures, rainfall
and sea levels for the present day, the year 2040 and the year 2060.
Project activities were specifically developed in response to Welsh climate
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change evidence and strategies. For example, Environment Agency Wales
research published in 2009 concluded that:
• 220,000 properties in Wales are at risk of flooding, affecting one in nine of the
population
• 33% of Welsh railways and 11% of major roads are at risk from flooding
• nationally important infrastructure such as oil refineries (Milford Haven) and
power stations (Wylfa, Aberthaw, Uskmouth, and Pembroke) are located on the
coast, as well as water supply and treatment facilities, electricity supply and
distribution sites.
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Flooding in Wales: A National Assessment of Flood Risk, Environment Agency Wales 2009
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In addition, the Welsh Assembly Government “Climate Change Strategy:
Consultation on a Programme of Action”5 recognises that:
‘As a result of the greenhouse gas emissions that have already been emitted, we
can not avoid the impacts of climate change entirely. We need to adapt to the
changes that we cannot avoid, but we have to continue to reduce emissions at
the same time or the impacts will be even worse’.
It also recommends that:
‘The earlier Wales starts to prepare – by understanding our vulnerability to the
impacts of climate change and increasing the resilience to these impacts – the
better equipped we will be to cope in the future’.
KEY POINT:
The issues young people were asked to explore are particularly relevant to the
evidence base and to the Climate Change Strategy for Wales.
Young people
responding to the
evidence base
5
Climate Change Strategy: Consultation on a Programme of Action Summary Version July
2009 http://wales.gov.uk/docs/desh/consultation/090625climateactionsummaryen.pdf
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2. State of the art: What do we know about climate
change science in Wales, and what are the issues we
foresee?
If today’s young people are to prepare for the future, they need clear, accurate,
balanced information. Given the broad spectrum and questionable validity of
information already available, the workshop team began by setting the scene,
presenting best available climate change science and what a changing climate
might mean for people living in Wales.
The information presented at workshops was initially collated by researchers at
Cardiff University based on UK Climate Predictions6. In all cases, medium
emissions scenarios were assumed (i.e. levels of future greenhouse gases
released via human activities continue to increase at the current rate).
Care was taken to discuss where uncertainty exists. For example, it is very
difficult to project levels of future greenhouse gas emissions, the science is still
developing and natural variation is also occurring alongside human induced
climate change.
KEY POINTS:
Young people need clear, accurate, balanced information. However, there
remains some uncertainty about model projections.
How Much?
If we continue to release
greenhouse gases at the
current rate, scientists
estimate that by the year 2095,
sea levels in Wales could have
risen by 35cms in the north
and 50cms in the south.
6
http://ukclimateprojections.defra.gov.uk/
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2020s
2050s
2080s
Source:
http://ukclimateprojections.defra.gov.uk/cont
ent/view/1492/499/
Data based on medium emissions scenario
Welsh Temperature Changes 2020s-2080s
How Much?
By the 2080s
average
temperatures in
Wales could
increase by up
to 4 ˚C.
Increases are
likely to be
greatest in
summer
months.
How Much?
By the 2080s
summer rainfall
may reduce by
up to 30% in
parts of Central
and South Wales
and up to 40% in
parts of West
Wales.
How Much?
By the 2080s
winter rainfall
may have
increased by up
to 30% in South
and West
Wales,
particularly
along the coast.
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3. Why are young people’s perspectives required for
climate change adaptation policies?
“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children”
- Ancient Native American Proverb
The generation about to enter adulthood are likely to see major changes in
Wales due to climate change, particularly in coastal regions, and may have to
significantly adapt to cope with changes in temperature, rainfall and sea level.
The importance of including young people’s perspectives in policy making is
already recognised at UK level.
In December 2010, the Department of Energy and Climate Change Youth
Advisory Panel published their first report7 focussing on their work and
exploration of the possible energy pathways to 2050, based on the DECC
Pathways Project. This report on UK energy policies was produced by people
aged between 16 and 25, written from the perspective of those who will have
to live with present decisions throughout their adult lives. The report calls for
the government to:
•Ensure a fair deal for young people in the decision-making process;
•Actively work hard to ensure that Government does not lock young and future
generations into ecological debt;
•Continue engaging in dialogue with the youth constituency and stakeholdership
to ensure that the youth perspective is heard, and responded to, by
Government.
KEY POINT:
It is widely recognised that early engagement and dialogue offers the best
opportunity for successful adaptation. This document provides a first step in
involving young people in welsh climate change adaptation policy making.
7
Energy: How fair is it anyway? The Department of Energy and Climate Change Youth
Advisory Panel. December 2010: UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Young and
Future Generations Day London, Brussels, Cancun available from
http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/about/youth_panel/youth_panel.aspx
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4. Views About Transport
Risk Factors
Young people discussed risks of increased temperatures, rainfall and sea levels
on road, rail and shipping infrastructure. Flooding was considered to be the
most significant risk to transport systems in Wales. This included inland and
coastal flooding.
Adaptation Options
It was proposed that there could be a need to elevate or move road and rail
links, build embankments or bridges. Rail and associated mass transit systems
such as monorail were seen as viable commuting systems in the future,
although young people also concluded that walking, cycling and working from
home to avoid commuting might also be popular options.
There was an interest in taking to the water in hovercraft, water-taxis, boats and
amphibious vehicles, showing that to some people sea level rise could be seen
as an opportunity rather than a problem!
Of course if an area is flooded there are three options, travelling around the
water, through the water and over the water. For the latter option, some
respondents did expect widespread use of personal aircraft to be a reality by
2060.
KEY POINT:
Coastal and inland flooding is considered to be the most significant risk to
transport systems in Wales.
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5. Views About Critical Infrastructure
Risk Factors
Critical infrastructure, such as energy supply lines, power stations and
communication systems were considered to be particularly at risk from coastal
and inland flooding, as well as from temperature change. In particular, young
people were concerned that settlement separated from distribution centres by
areas prone to flooding may have to learn to live with power interruptions.
Adaptation Options
It was considered that there could be a need to move power lines, even before
2040, to avoid interruptions to energy supply caused by localised flooding.
Renewable energy (wind, tidal, hydro-electric) and nuclear energy were the
main proposals for large scale energy production, with supplemental microgeneration, such as solar photo-voltaic panels and domestic wind turbines.
Community-based systems were also favoured, including geothermal, local wind
farm and biomass power generation. A proposal to hook up a generator to the
local gym was suggested as a way of delivering energy to the community whilst
keeping fit!
KEY POINT:
Interruptions to power supplies are of particular concern.
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6. Views About Settlement
Risk Factors
Individual houses, villages, towns and cities in Wales were considered to be at
risk, particularly from inland and coastal flooding. Future living conditions were
also considered to be potentially uncomfortable or even dangerous to the
elderly or long-term sick, particularly during the summer months. It was
foreseen that the issues of 2040 could be met by reasonable adaptation, but
more inventive approaches would be needed by 2060.
Adaptation Options
The young people saw a need to adapt to increasing risk of flooding by
maintaining a local supply of sandbags, improving drainage systems, wetproofing houses, installing valves to stop backflow through drains, raising the
level of electrical sockets, and in some cases, raising houses above water levels.
In addition to measures for individual dwellings, some discussed the possibility
of protecting settlements via flood defence structures or moving entire villages
to higher ground. One participant suggested the possibility of developing
“houseboat villages”.
Among options discussed for adapting to increased temperatures were the
painting of houses in light reflective colours, planting trees to provide natural
shade and in some circumstances, installing air conditioning systems.
KEY POINT:
Settlement issues faced in 2040 could be met by existing technology,
however, more inventive approaches would be required by 2060.
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7. Views About Responsibility
Young people were aware of the risks of living in the coastal zone and the need
to adapt, but considered that national and local governments had given
permission for houses to be built in risk prone areas, so should therefore accept
partial responsibility and provide assistance in the form of financial and
technical support to assist individuals and communities adapt. Since adaptation
to the effects of climate change was seen as a national problem, some young
people suggested the establishment of a central fund which could be allocated
to local councils to develop practical resources and education programmes.
Young People Debating Settlement Options in 2080
KEY POINT:
Young people consider that responsibility for adapting to the risks posed
by climate change should be shared between individuals, communities and
government.
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8. Conclusions
Workshops held as part of the Beacons YoCCo project have provided a valuable
opportunity to gather views from a broad spectrum of young people in Wales
about climate change and adaptation. This document represents a snapshot of
those views. In particular:
1.Young people consider that responsibility for adapting to the risks posed by
climate change should be shared between individuals, communities and
government
2. Coastal and inland flooding is considered to be the most significant risk to
transport systems in Wales
3. Interruptions to power supplies are of particular concern
4. Settlement issues faced in 2040 could be met by existing technology.
However, more inventive approaches are likely to be required by 2060.
The young people that participated in workshops were enthusiastic and gave
well-considered responses. Interestingly, the responses to “What will you do
differently in the future?” did not focus on adaptation options, as intended, but
rather focussed on mitigation efforts such as using less energy, recycling, and so
on. Additional emphasis needs to be placed on educating and equipping young
people to adapt to a changing climate.
It is concluded that young people have a lot to contribute in terms of ideas and
practical implementation. It is now up to the Welsh Government to hear their
messages and further include them in deciding their future.
KEY POINTS:
- Additional emphasis needs to be placed on educating and equipping young
people to adapt to a changing climate
- Young people have a lot to contribute in terms of ideas and practical
implementation. It is now up to the Welsh Government to hear, engage and
respond to their messages and further include them in deciding their future.
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For further information please contact:
Dr Rhoda Ballinger ([email protected])
Dr Jeanette Reis ([email protected])
Tara Thrupp ([email protected])
School of Earth & Ocean Sciences, Cardiff University, Main Building, Park
Place, Cardiff CF10 3YE.
Project website http://www.severnestuary.net/yocco/index.html
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