UK Climate Risks

Screenshot 2018-03-18 19.00.22

This image is from the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment 2017.

Cultural organisations everywhere rely on economic and environmental stability – so that there is reliable public funding, so that tourists continue to travel, so that people can afford to pay for entertainment and give time to volunteer. How will the eco-social crisis affect the UK in particular in future?

Apart from the risks identified above, it is likely that the main risks to UK heritage and tourism are related to water:

Too little

  • Subsidence from drought causing damage to buildings and infrastructure
  • Fires in forests and on heathland affecting biodiversity and cultural heritage in landscape

Too much

  • Coastal erosion from increased wave height and more severe storms
  • Tidal flooding
  • Fluvial flooding
  • Flash floods from heavy rainfall on dry ground.

And too frozen, at times

  • Snow and ice storms from disrupted jet streams, linked to a rapidly warming Arctic.

The effects of climate change on one country must be seen in a global context. The UK’s economy is reliant on other countries for half of its supply of food. Loss of liveable land worldwide will place much greater pressures on the UK from resource insecurity and an increased threat of terrorism and war. Added to this is the complication of leaving the EU, raising costs of labour and of importing food. People in the UK, as global citizens, will suffer in unmeasurable ways from losses everywhere of precious ecosystems and species. These factors, which are likely to result in economic downturn and food shortage, may initially outweigh the significant risks of extreme local weather or tidal events for UK cultural organisations. 


Watch this video summarising the 2017 UK Climate Change Risk Assessment. One of your team could read the synthesis report and give an overview.

Discuss the critical risks for your organisation in the next two decades.

What are the key risks in your location, and that of your wider community?

What kinds of roles and programmes will your organisation develop in response to such risks? 

This may be a difficult discussion as some people may be less willing than others to picture the worst cases. Because the future is essentially uncertain, some people may enjoy making determined statements while others may feel at a loss to do so.

It might help diffuse difficulties if you create a fictional future organisation, with fictional characters. You could draw or model a future building/venue/programme, and future job-holders, in playful ways.