In previous MCFly’s we’ve reported on Manchester University’s search for what we labelled – in a foaming fit of terrible tabloid alliteration as a “Green Guru.” Dr Jeremy Carter was appointed to the position, and has kindly answered our questions, which we post here in their entirity.
He began with a preface:
"I should point out that the research fellowship to which I was
appointed only accounts for 40% of my working time. The other 60%
relates to an EU climate change adaptation project and a study for the
Environment Agency on future challenges for the Northwest's water
environment, with climate change nevertheless featuring prominently.
My answers relate to the research fellowship, which is part of a
initiative known as Eco Cities. I have combined answers to some your
questions, and have focused on the ones that relate to the project and
the issues to which it relates."
In a nutshell, what have you been asked to do?
The Eco Cities project aims to create a strategy to help Manchester adapt to climate change. Previous research undertaken at the University has demonstrated that climate change is likely to have a significant impact on the city. For example, temperatures may increase by up to 5ºC by the end of this century. Rainfall patterns are also set to change with winters becoming wetter (with up to 30% more rainfall) and summers drier (with up to 60% less rainfall). These changes will have a wide range of impacts such as greater risk of flooding and increased incidence of heat waves.
The project will aim to increase our understanding of how these changes will affect the city, and will also consider how we may best respond to increase our resilience and reduce our vulnerability to these impacts. Initially, we will be looking at past climate events and their impacts in the city-region to give an indication of the impacts which might be expected in the future, albeit with greater frequency and intensity. We will also be developing links with key individuals and organisations who have the potential to contribute to the adaptation strategy. Indeed, in order to enhance the utility of the adaptation strategy, we will need to work with key stakeholders who influence the development and use of land in the city.
How does this job fit in with the other work the University is doing on Climate Change?
Climate change adaptation is a key theme running through research being undertaken at the School of Environment and Development. Recently completed and ongoing projects address topics such as how urban environments can be better adapted to climate change and the urban heat island effect. The Eco Cities project will build on this work.
Are there “easy wins” that can be made on Climate Change adaptation in the North West? If so, what are they?
Green infrastructure (trees, gardens, green roofs, parks etc.) has a crucial role to play in adapting to climate change. For example, green spaces reduce the volume of run-off water reaching rivers lessening flood risk. With the threat of more heat waves, particularly in urban centres, the role that plants and trees can play in moderating temperatures is also vitally important. Increasing the amount of green infrastructure in our towns and cities, both around new and existing developments, would certainly help the adaptation cause.
Aside from climate change adaptation, green infrastructure provides a wide range of other benefits such as providing space for recreation (with knock-on health benefits), enhancing biodiversity and even increasing foot-fall into shops. It is important to begin to see green spaces as ‘critical infrastructure’ along the same lines as water, energy and transport infrastructure. They should be protected and enhanced wherever possible.
What’s the best popular book you’ve read on Climate Change?
In the interest of picking something that everyone can access, I am actually going to choose a recent article written by James Hansen in which he sets out the climate change issues that Barack Obama is going to have face during his presidency.
What would you like to see campaigning/community/ voluntary groups doing on Climate Change in Manchester?
We need to collectively raise awareness of and argue for increased attention and action on climate change adaptation. Recent research from the Tyndall Centre (reported in the Guardian at http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/dec/09/poznan-copenhagen-global-warming-targets-climate-change) highlights that keeping temperatures to less than 2ºC above pre-industrial levels is going to be a difficult task indeed. Lack of action to reduce emissions levels is committing us to an increase in frequency and intensity of impacts related to climate change such as floods, droughts and heat waves. We need to take steps to adapt to these impacts.