Climate change will disrupt wi-fi connections, cause regular power failures and lead railway lines to buckle unless Britain spends billions of pounds, Caroline Spelman, the Environment Secretary has warned.
By Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent , UK Telegraph, 2:12PM BST 09 May 2011Already the transport sector is preparing for temperatures above 104F (40C) this summer, which could lead to breakdowns on the railways.
Speaking at Blackfriars Station in London, which Network Rail is currently fitting with solar panels and rainwater harvesting systems in order to be more resilient against power cuts, Ms Spelman said the UK is already investing £200 billion over the next five years.
But that will not be enough to stop economic impacts of climate change if it is invested in the wrong areas.
She warned of intense rainfall, droughts and heatwaves in the next 50 to 100 years because of man-made global warming.
“Our economy is built on effective transport and communications networks and reliable energy and water supplies.
“But the economy cannot grow if there are repeated power failures, or goods cannot be transported because roads are flooded and railways have buckled, or if intense rainfall or high temperatures disrupt Wi-Fi signals.
“£200 billion is expected to be invested in the UK’s infrastructure over the next five years. But if the facilities which support our society cannot cope with floods, droughts or freezing winters then that money will have been wasted.”
A cross-government report published today outlines how planning and design of new infrastructure needs to take into account the impact of climate change – especially as many projects will still be in place in 50 to 100 years time.
Theresa Villiers, the Rail Minister, promised to invest in adapting to climate change.
“Despite the need to cut the deficit, the Government is committed to investing in our transport infrastructure through vital projects such as the Thameslink upgrade, Crossrail, the proposed High Speed rail network and more electrification of the rail network.
“Once completed, these projects will serve the country for many years, increasing connectivity and helping boost economic growth, so making them fit for the climate of the future has been a vital part of their planning.”