"Costa del Cambridge in 50 years"

Lottie Young 22 November 2007

Cambridge’s climate may resemble the Costa del Sol in years to come, according to a report presented at a conference this week.

A publication by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has stated that global temperatures could rise by between 2 and 6 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.

In the light of these suggestions, Colin Wiles, a top Cambridge house builder said: “We need to think of a world that may be more like Greece or Spain, where we will need outside sitting areas and whitewashed walls.”

But Wiles also drew attention to the threat from rising sea levels in the Cambridgeshire region.

“A temperature rise of two degrees could lead to rises in sea levels of as much as five metres, leaving many parts of the eastern region vulnerable to flooding.”

And he stressed the need to take these climate risks into account as Cambridge continues to develop.

“I think this should be informing some of the investment decisions that are now being made, as the houses we build now could be under water by the end of the century”, he said.

Wiles’s predictions were met with support from one Cambridge expert. Dr Aled Jones, from the Cambridge Programme for Industry, said: “A 5m rise in sea level would have huge implications for the East of England – in particular Norfolk and the low lying fenlands, but Cambridge would be ok.”

“Even without direct impact from the sea rising in Cambridge, the economic and social implications of this sort of rise would have a huge impact on Cambridge and everywhere else.”

But Professor Nick McCave, from the Department of Earth Sciences, dismissed this latest series of climate predictions.

McCave wrote off the comments as “alarmist guff”, adding that “No sensible climatologist would take too much notice of what was said.”

He recognised the threat of excessive flooding in the Lowlands as a result of climate change, especially from “flashy rainfall”, but claimed that the eastern region will be in no danger if the government opts to invest in coastal protection and other precautionary measures.

Lottie Young