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Impacts of Climate Change on The Historic Built Environment: A Report and Guide

Posted on: 8th November 2022

Sunday 6th November 2022 marked the beginning of United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties 27, also known as COP27. Our climate is changing and the impact this has on the environment is plain to see. Without action to reduce our emissions our built and natural heritage will remain vulnerable to the changes this brings. In 2021 UAH produced a report and guide which has recently been published on the impact climate change has on the Historic Built Environment.

This valuable report is an important tool as we address the impact of climate change on our historic built environment and in turn make the most of the significant positive contribution that this asset can offer, both in terms of carbon savings, and through the sustainable provision of much needed housing. This report and guide outlines the climate change and associated risks which may threaten the survival and long-term sustainability of Northern Ireland’s historic built environment. Strategies are proposed to assess, monitor, adapt and mitigate against current and developing impacts. The report highlights the need for building owners and custodians to understand the areas of vulnerability of their assets and then to focus attention on what additional adverse impacts might come into play as a consequence of radically changing meteorological patterns and events – a changing climate.

The report aims to alert owners and custodians, of both modest and nationally important historic buildings, that they will inevitably face additional responsibility and a more frequent need to care for their buildings. This will become increasingly important as climate change continues on the present trajectory in line with predictions. However, this report and guide emphasises that dealing with the impacts of climate change will often be a case of lower cost measures through enhancing routine monitoring, maintenance and repair; with appropriate adaptation or mitigation measures required only in the more at-risk cases. A small number of cases will need costly, challenging and technically complex intervention in the face of flooding, erosion, or subsidence threat. Northern Ireland’s historic environment is a finite, fragile and non-renewable asset which showcases our unique historical, cultural and physical identity, and promotes our pride of place. The historic environment is internationally accepted as key to sustainable income generation and tourism. Northern Ireland is fortunate in having a wealth of historic assets contained within a compact geographic area which spans across a broad range of styles, functions and periods; with considerable untapped potential to deliver tangible economic, cultural and social benefits. It is an obvious imperative that Northern Ireland must make best efforts to protect its historic built environment in order to sustainably profit from it into the future. The report can be downloaded below.

Climate Change Report 2021

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Climate Change Report and Guide - 4 MB

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