Trust appeals for emissions action

Climate change could result in £200 billion worth of damage to property and infrastructure from coastal erosion by 2050, the Energy Saving Trust (EST) forecasted this week.

In a report to mark Energy Efficiency Week, the EST analysed the damage that climate change could cause in each UK region. It concludes that Scotland's ski industry could be wiped out within 20 years, excessive heat in London could cause building subsidence and the Lincolnshire coast could face sea level rises of up to 80cm.

Drier summers will mean that water supplies in the south and east of England will need to be piped in from elsewhere, the report warns. Transport infrastructure could grind to a halt as rails buckle and foundations subside in hot summer while rain and flooding lead to landslides.

The report calculates that UK carbon dioxide emissions stand at 536 million tonnes per year, of which 28 per cent is attributable to energy used in homes. EST chief executive Philip Sellwood said: "Every time a light is switched on or a video left on standby, carbon dioxide is emitted from a power station into the atmosphere. It is imperative that we become more aware of the energy that we use in our homes and reduce emissions."

House builders accepted that more radical steps are needed. Gerry McCaughey, chief executive of building firm Century Homes, said the government should embrace alternative techniques. "Timber frames meet the environmental challenge by releasing less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and being more energy efficient," he argued.

The EST has predicted that home insurance costs will go through the roof and may even be withdrawn altogether in some areas. It forecasts that annual insurance claims will reach the £800 million mark.

But a spokesman for the Association of British Insurers said: "We believe that the number of properties that would be uninsurable is very small, providing the government continues its work on flood defences."

Forecasting the Future: Changing Climate, Changing Behaviour can be viewed via

- See Editorial, page 11.

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