What are the climate threats?
There are a range of risks and threats that will be caused by the climate emergency, many of which will overlap with one another. The impact of these threats will also depend on how quickly we can reduce our carbon emissions. You can see what the difference between 2ºC and 4ºC of warming will mean for overheating and rainfall in your area on this website.
We've broken these down into five categories to help us target our work. We've summarised the categories below. If you'd like more details, view our full draft strategy document.
Overheating is where the temperature becomes too warm for us to safely continue as normal. This might be because the higher temperatures have a direct impact on physical and mental health, or it may be because the strain on public services and risks of wildfires means that it's increasingly dangerous or unsafe.
In Southwark, as an inner-city borough, we're particularly at risk of overheating. Being too hot during heatwaves is something that many of us already struggle with, and temperatures in London are predicted to keep rising.
Flooding is where properties, businesses and essential services are damaged by water. There are different types of flooding that we need to prepare for, such as:
- flash floods, when there is too much water for our networks to drain away, also known as ‘surface water flooding’
- long periods of excessive rain, which means no more water can soak into the ground. This might lead to a basement or low-lying land becoming underwater
- flooding from the Thames due to sea level rises, also known as ‘tidal surges’
- pollution from our sewer network, during rainfall, into our streets and rivers
In Southwark, we experienced major surface water flooding in July 2021, and as a low-lying area, we are also at risk from sea-level rises, although we're currently protected by the Thames Barrier against tidal surges.
Water is an essential resource for all of us in the borough, in nearly everything that we do. However, the climate emergency threatens our vital water resources due to droughts, which means our rivers and groundwater are running dry. London already suffers from serious water stress, which means there is a need to reduce water use.
We have seen in recent years, from COVID to the war in Ukraine, how global shocks have a major impact on our ability to access and afford food and other essentials here at home. Climate Change has the potential to cause similar shocks and stresses which will have major impacts to supply chains, global infrastructure and food production.
Currently, in the UK, we import around 40% of our food, meaning we will be affected by the changes happening in other countries. As food insecurity increases globally, we would expect to see price increases and increasing inequality in Southwark.
As our climate changes, we are seeing pests and diseases thrive in new and unexpected ways. These pests and diseases are a threat to us, as well as to our plants and wildlife. There are a few different types of threats:
- new species, which can now survive in a warmer UK climate, and cause damage to our native plants and wildlife
- increased risks to humans of diseases that are currently found in warmer countries
- new pests and diseases, which can threaten our plants and animals, such as sudden oak death, which thrive in more moist and wet conditions
Page last updated: 29 August 2023