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Much wetter winters forecast

Temperatures in the UK will change dramatically in the next few decades, according to new climate change projections published last week.

The government commissioned UK Climate Projections study carried out by the UK Climate Impact Programme (UKCIP) predicts that average summer temperatures in the south of England could rise by 2°C by 2040. By 2080, temperatures could be 6.4°C higher than they are now.

UKCIP predicted that the UK will see hotter, drier summers and milder, wetter winters, with an increased risk of flooding which could threaten critical infrastructure assets.

“These projections show us the future we need to avoid, and the future we need to plan for,” said environment secretary Hilary Benn.

“Even if we see just a 2°C rise, and interventions from the Climate Change Conference, we will still face serious challenges in defending infrastructure.”

Alan Stilwell, ICE

Benn added that an effective international agreement on reducing carbon emissions at the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference in December could keep the temperature rise in southern England to 2°C − but if greenhouse gases keep rising, that figure could be closer to 12°C.

Alan Stilwell, who led the ICE’s inquiry into defending critical national infrastructure, said the UKCIP projections were worrying.

“Even if we see the lower predictions of a 2°C rise, and interventions from the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, we will still face serious challenges in defending infrastructure,” he said.

“If the worst case scenario comes into play and temperatures rise by as high as 12°C, that would cause serious issues for infrastructure.”

“That really isn’t acceptable,” he said. “Climate change is happening now. We must take the necessary steps.”

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