Ed Miliband – Question 1
CPRE recently published its vision for the countryside in 2026 – our centenary year. What changes do you think we will see by then to the character of the countryside as a result of climate change and new energy infrastructure?
We know climate change has already started, and last week the Met Office published new projections for what it will mean for us in the mid 2020s and beyond. In my own area of Yorkshire and Humber, we would not just have a rise in temperature of more than a degree, but we could lose 4 per cent of our summer rainwater if there are high emissions, and have to cope with 5 per cent more rain in the winter.
If we don’t cut global emissions early, the changes to our countryside would get more drastic in the decades that follow. In the 2080s, for example, if we don’t act on climate change, the Met Office projections are that my region would lose more than a quarter of our summer rain, and have more than 20 per cent extra rain in winter. While the summer heatwave of 2003 was just 2ºC above normal, the summer temperatures with unchecked climate change could be 4.2ºC above normal. You don’t need to a scientist to understand that this would have a devastating impact: our landscape, wildlife, and agricultural production would all be altered.
But the character of the countryside does not have to see these changes. It’s not too late to stop them – and in doing so, we have the chance to enjoy a more tranquil countryside as we move to quieter, electric cars, as well as a better public transport.