Rising sea levels could threaten Glasgow hospitals and city infrastructure

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The potential risk that rising sea levels could pose to Glasgow’s hospitals and city infrastructure is being assessed as part of a 13-point action plan to tackle climate change.

The Glasgow Pact, recently agreed at COP26, has been described a step in the right direction but negotiations revealed that there are still significant action, policy, and commitment gaps in achieving the net zero goals.

Even with the new Glasgow Pact pledges, it is predicted that global greenhouse gas (carbon) emissions will double by 2030 compared to the reductions required to achieve 1.5°C.

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The climate adaptation plan, which incorporates a range of supporting actions to better understand and address the most significant risks, was presented to members of the environment committee on Tuesday afternoon.

During the meeting Baillie Dr Martin Bartos asked how rising sea levels would affect hospitals and Glasgow’s infrastructure.

Hospitalisations in Glasgow are still rising.Hospitalisations in Glasgow are still rising.
Hospitalisations in Glasgow are still rising. | Shutterstock

He said: “Throughout the document there are a variety of points talking about new extremes.

“There are obviously projections for future sea rise but I haven’t seen any comment on projected extremes on sea levels because its those extremes where we might find infrastructure being hit and I don’t know at what point that becomes a realistic issue for our hospitals or infrastructure.”

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He was informed by an officer that the local authority will continue to work with universities to better understand what those impacts are, particularly to the infrastructure of the more vulnerable hospitals but also the newly built transport museum.

She said: “We have engaged with academics across the city to develop the plan and to understand the impacts as we move forward as our climate evolves. We will continue to understand what works and what doesn’t work.”

The 13-point climate action plan includes:

Governance – identifying new ways of working with council services and partners to make the best use of available resources and expertise to build a climate resilient future for Glasgow.

Planning and Housing – a detailed analysis of the risks posed to the city from the impacts of climate change to identify the most vulnerable buildings, locations, and neighbourhoods, and specific actions to address these.

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Sustainable Transport – monitoring and addressing the impacts of climate change on Glasgow transport infrastructure.

Natural Environment and Assets – collaboration with parks, biodiversity, planning services to review priority species and habitats.

Health and Wellbeing – including continued work with Sustainable Glasgow and Climate Ready Clyde to build a better understanding of climate impacts upon the health, and wellbeing of individuals and communities, as well as the inequalities associated with those impacts.

Environment – to develop a fuller understanding of the potential impacts of climate change on air and water quality, pest and disease control, and other environmental health related factors.

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Risk Planning – this will include more robust risk management strategies that give prominence to climate change issues and aid informed climate resilience planning.

Economy – this will include work of climate change impacts among Glasgow’s business community and to inform future planning of major events and attractions.

Research and Evaluation – to continue ongoing monitoring, evaluation, and research to inform the council’s decision-making on climate adaptation action.

Climate Justice – supporting socio-economic and geographic areas to monitor the impacts of climate change such as flooding and overheating.

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Raising Awareness – increasing understanding of climate impacts; namely flooding and overheating and solutions to address these.

Adaptation Maintenance – including proactive consideration of funding to support long term maintenance which is essential to delivering successful city projects.

Improved Response to Climate Events – the development of a coordinated and strategic response to climate and weather events which will be essential if the city is to build resilience to current and future climate impacts.

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