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Earlier this week I attended a conference in Manchester which considered the city’s response to the inevitable, and worsening, effects of climate change.

The current forecast is that the World’s pledge to keep the rise in global temperature rise to a maximum of 2 deg C (reached inCopenhagenin December 2009) now seems pretty impossible to achieve, and that a global rise of 4 deg C is more likely!

In vulnerable areas this will cause a catastrophic effect on many communities – most of whom have had no part in the causes of climate change, yet they’re powerless to stop it.

In UK cities like Manchester it’s going to lead to warmer wetter winters, more flooding and storm damage and, in the summer, a greater risk of heat wave and prolonged drought.

Of course around 80% of our current existing buildings will still be around in 50 years time so we now face immediate and major challenges in the scale of the steps we all need to take to both mitigate against further climate change (e.g. achieving carbon savings), and adaptations required to create a resilient built environment that will cope with the inevitable climate changes.

This of course also requires some very serious decisions – both philosophical and practical – for those of us that care for our historic environment. Indeed it draws into question the need to carefully re-assess what’s a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ building for the future, and perhaps whether being ‘historic’ is sufficient justification to ensure it’s survival.

An excellent website has been launched to summarise the findings of the work recently undertaken by scientists at ManchesterUniversity, with their funding partners Bruntwood. It can be found at: www.adapting-manchester.co.uk

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