‘Catastrophic’ climate change is a real threat to Suffolk’s coastline and urgent action is needed, expert warns

Climate change campaigners in London ahead of UN talks. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire.

Climate change campaigners in London ahead of UN talks. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire. - Credit: PA

Urgent action is required to protect Suffolk’s communities from the growing “catastrophic” threats of climate change, it has been claimed.

Dr Steve Smedley, of the Suffolk Coastal Green Party, has raised concerns that “thousands of hectares” of farming land in the county would be permanently under water by 2100, due to rising sea levels, if “tough global action” is not taken.

His remarks come after The Prince of Wales told world leaders yesterday that humanity faces no greater threat than climate change at the start of crucial UN talks in Paris.

Dr Smedley, who examined the latest scientific predictions with American research team Climate Central, said: “Projections produced by the online mapping tool from Climate Central show how Suffolk communities and businesses would be placed under enormous pressures from rising sea levels as existing sea defences are overtopped. Felixstowe docks would be completely inundated. Thousands of hectares of productive farming land along the Deben, Alde and Ore estuaries would be permanently under water.

“What is not clear is the timescale for the sea to reach these levels. But what the research does make clear is that the climate choices and decisions we make now will have far-reaching consequences for centuries to come.

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“The need for tough global action on climate change, particularly on carbon emissions, is becoming more urgent every day. That is why it is of the utmost importance that governments take decisive action on climate change now.”

Over the next fortnight during the UN talks, negotiators from 195 countries will attempt to hammer out a deal that will put the world on a path to prevent temperatures rising by more than 2C (3.6F) above pre-industrial levels and avoid dangerous climate change.

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Dr Smedley added: “Recent studies suggest that carbon emissions produced now could have a cumulative effect on temperatures far beyond what is currently thought. The effect would be to ‘lock in’ long-term sea-level rise beyond the end of this century that greatly exceeds current projections.

“As global temperatures rise, sea levels also rise because more water is fed into the oceans from melting polar ice, and the oceans themselves expand as they warm up. The generally accepted increase in sea level due to climate change by the year 2100 is between half and one metre.

“But these new studies show that even if carbon emissions were kept low enough to meet the internationally agreed 2C of global warming, the cumulative effect of carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere could see sea levels continue to rise beyond 2100 by up to four-and-a-half metres.

“This would have catastrophic consequences for coastal communities on the east coast.”

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