Glasgow City Region Climate Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan
An un-adapted Glasgow City Region
It is 2050. More extreme weather events are regularly occurring, as scientists have warned for decades. Major flooding is widespread and big storms and heatwaves are now part of normal life.
Glasgow City Region is a much riskier place to live and climate-anxiety is commonplace. In winter, heavy rainfall and storms mean citizens now routinely check SEPA’s flood forecasts as a necessity and the media regularly tell us that new threats are always a looming possibility. Walking down the street feels profoundly different from the 2020s. Although there are still some green spaces, Glasgow City Region has an absence of places where we can experience nature. Access to green space is a postcode lottery and makes it harder for wildlife to migrate and survive. Riverbanks are lined by grey, concrete and steel; flood defences restrict people’s access to the river and provide a vivid reminder of the constant risks of flooding. Spotting a redshank on the Clyde’s banks is now cause for celebration rather than a regular occurrence. Getting around needs careful planning; despite continued infrastructure investments, new developments weren’t climate-proofed and disruption to travel is frequent. Flash flooding disrupts our commutes to work, and the school run, whilst coastal erosion along the river estuary has increased, damaging low-lying railway lines and breaking links into the city centre. Other trains are regularly delayed or cancelled due to flooding, landslides and heatwaves. Roads are also vulnerable, with the motorways, Erskine Bridge and the Rest and Be Thankful frequently closed due to climate extremes. The region’s coastal towns have grown with new developments, but these are proving prone to flooding and rising sea levels, and some are becoming uninsurable. Many other medium and long- term climate risks – such as extreme temperatures – have been neglected in forward planning. As a result, homes and buildings overheat regularly, affecting the elderly and the young, and care for the elderly is even more expensive as increased air conditioning requirements in care homes drive costs higher. These impacts have widened economic and social divides. There is widespread public concern about why previous decisions ignored climate risks. Now, communities are anxious about their futures, worrying about where and how they will live, and whether they can afford to move or retrofit their recently built homes. Climate change hit public finances and the region’s economy hard. An increasing share of the public budget is spent on addressing climate impacts, further reducing public services. Without wider support to respond strategically, many businesses only focus on managing the day-to-day shocks. As shareholders and asset managers have realized the threat of climate change, many companies have left Glasgow City Region, attracted to places that were adapting for the longer term, causing rising unemployment. For those that call Glasgow City Region home, climate change is driving the wedge deeper into existing inequalities and further eroding our community’s social contract. The generation growing up in the region find themselves caught in the middle of a perfect storm and struggle to feel much hope.
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