October, 2013

Our work

Our work
You might be surprised to read that our work is far broader than nature reserves and Big Garden Birdwatch. Read more about what else we do.

Climate change

News and views from the RSPB on climate change and what you can do about it.
  • Spiralling climate risks to emerging economies

    Nearly one-third of the world's economy by 2025 will be in countries at the greatest risk climate change, says risk consultancy Maplecroft, highlighting the global impact of countries vulnerable to climate change.

    Its latest annual Climate Change and Risk Atlas is based on Maplecroft's Climate Change Vulnerability Index, which considered a nation's exposure to extreme weather events over the next 30 years alongside its capacity to cope with the impact. The Atlas shows that Asian growth economies will be exposed to spiralling environmental risks over the coming decades – the emerging ecomoinies are the most at risk. In all nearly a third of global output – around $44 trillion - will be from countries classified as most at risk from climate change.

    India, Vietnam, Indonesia and China are among the emerging economies most expected to feel the economic impact of climate change. Of the top 50 cities of current and future importance to global business, Dhaka, Manila, Bangkok, Yangon, Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh City and Kolkata are all at ‘extreme’ climate change risk. Several developed world cities, including Osaka and Sydney are also vulnerable.

    Achieving more sustainable water and energy use are highlighted for governments of emerging economies, and the report also notes that pressure on food supplies will also affect both people and ecosystems.

    The growing interdependence and vulnerability of a global economy highlights that climate change affects us all – even those in areas expecting relatively mild direct climate impacts. This raises self-interest to countries and people across the world to find global solutions to climate change.

    And our economic and business partnerships can also provide routes to global practical action for climate mitigation.

  • Hotter and bothered in Britain?

    Climate change in the UK is happening faster than the global average, say the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy and the Grantham Research Institute

    Their new report has analysed Met Office data and found that average temperatures in the UK rose by 0.18°C each decade from 1950. This compares with a global average surface temperature rise of 0.12°C, which was highlighted in the IPCC report last month.  

    The analysis also shows that the seven warmest years in the UK since records began in 1910 have all occurred from 2000 onwards. Overall the UK average annual temperature increased by about 0.59°C between 1910-1939 and 1983-2012.

    UK annual rainfall has been increasing since about 1970, with 6 of the 10 wettest years on record all occurring within the last 15 years. 2012 was the second wettest year on record, with flooding in many parts of the UK during 2012.

    The new report also picks other interesting summary information from the IPCC report and the Met Office. The frequency or intensity of heavy rainfall has increased in large parts of Europe. A Met Office study of the long-term averages of 30-year periods showed an increase in annual UK rainfall of about 5 per cent between 1961-1990 and 1981-2010. And Met Office records suggest that 1-in-100-day extreme rainfall events may have become more frequent since 1960.

    The headline finding is interesting, because future projections suggest that the UK may be subject to more benign climate change than our neighbours on the mainland. So we’ll have to find out more about the context of our rate of temperature rise, and watch carefully how things develop.

  • Telling planners and architects all about the birds and the bats

    Zero carbon homes are an important step in the fight against climate change – but modern, efficient building design mustn’t give the cold shoulder to wildlife. The RSPB and other conservation partners have joined Bat Conservation Trust in a new guide which help architects and planners incorporate designs for wildlife into new buildings.

    New standards now require buildings to be more energy efficient and air-tight. That’s great for reducing our fuel bills and carbon emissions but the loss of the nooks and crannies will impact upon birds and bats that thought they had a cosy little agreement allowing them to set up home in our buildings.

    There are many options available to architects for incorporating spaces for biodiversity whilst still maintaining air-tightness of a building. These are explored in the recently published Designing for biodiversity: a technical guide for new and existing buildings. The book has been written by the Bat Conservation Trust with extensive input from the RSPB, Swift Conservation, Action for Swifts, Barn Owl Trust and Buglife.

    The book provides written and pictorial guidance, with sections on different building-reliant species, general principles for design, off-the shelf products and the latest on legislation, policy and regulations. In addition, it includes new sections that give a wider and more holistic approach; enhancing biodiversity at the wider development level, not just for new developments but with refurbishment of our existing housing stock.

    The typical architect, developer and building control officer of today should be aware of the need for low/zero carbon buildings. Designing for biodiversity is an invaluable tool that will help environmentally aware professionals and will perhaps prick the ‘green’ conscience of those yet to cross from the dark side.

    Copies are can be purchased from www.ribabookshops.com