London left underwater without climate action

The Houses of Parliament were flooded this week - with a projected image of where the Thames water level would be in 100 years if climate change continues at the present rate.

In a stunt by the WWF, water was projected halfway up the side of the historic building, along with the message “Vote to stop climate change” urging politicians to take a tougher stance on this global problem.

London and the south east of England are already feeling the effects of our changing climate, and research has shown that central London could be submerged underwater in 100 years time if current trends continue.

The move follows a similar stunt when the message “69% of people are worried about climate change – what are you going to do about it?” was recently projected onto Battersea power station to highlight the Government’s failure to set tough limits on CO2 pollution from industry after it backtracked on its original National Allocation Plan (see related story).

The Thames barrier has been activated 55 times in the 20 years since it was built due to tidal surges, and half of these incidents occurred in the last five years. According to Government estimates, it would cost the capital around £30 billion – around 2% of the UK’s GDP – if just one flood was to break through the barrier.

If climate change is left unchecked then estimates show that summer temperatures in London and the south east could rise by around five degrees Celsius, with winter rainfall and flooding increasing by 30%.

Moreover, a recent YouGov poll also revealed that half of the British public would support tax increases to subsidise transport fares and encourage people to use their cars less, and 85% would be in support of more government money going into the development of renewable energy projects and technology.

“British politicians have been guilty of a lot of rhetoric on climate change and very little action,” campaigns director at WWF Andrew Lee commented. “We may only have a decade to take action to reduce soaring greenhouse gas emissions and prevent the worst impacts of climate change becoming a reality.”

He said that WWF would be using the general election period to demand that politicians committed themselves to serious carbon dioxide reductions year on year in order to reach the 20% reduction target set for 2010.

“It is vital that the next government makes the right decisions over the upcoming Parliamentary term,” Mr Lee warned. “Ignoring this issue is not an option.”

By Jane Kettle

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