National Trust says most of its historic sites at risk from climate change

By on

The National Trust has called on the UK government to introduce new legislation that will recognise the need to adapt buildings, coastlines and countryside to cope with the impacts of climate change.

The charity and heritage conservation organisation is also pushing for a Climate Resilience Act, with clear legal duties and targets for adaptation, and a new dedicated minister.

It warns that without concerted action, over 70 per cent of the houses, gardens and beauty spots it looks after will be at medium or high risk of climate related hazards by 2060.

Patrick Begg, outdoors and natural resources director at the National Trust, told the Guardian: “We’re at a point where we need to raise a flag. We’re living the change. There are some serious, serious impacts happening.”

“The National Trust is a canary in the mine and every corner we look in is being affected by climate. Being resilient and thinking ahead has never been more needed.”

Corfe Castle: the National Trust says most of its sites are at risk from climate-related weather and is taking steps to protect staff and visitors. Photograph: iStock

The charity’s A Climate for Change report, released Monday, shows how climate-related weather is also a safety challenge, requiring new plans to keep visitors and staff safe from heavy storms, increased tree falling, flooding and extreme heat .

It comes as the chance of limiting global warming to 1.5C – as called for in the Paris Agreement – is only 14 per cent, according to analysis by the United Nations.

Countries' current emissions pledges to limit climate change put the world on track to warm by nearly 3 degrees Celsius this century, said the UN.

"Present trends are racing our planet down a dead-end 3C temperature rise," said U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. "The emissions gap is more like an emissions canyon."

World leaders will meet in Dubai from 30 November to 12 December for the annual U.N. climate summit COP28 with the aim of keeping the Paris Agreement warming target of 1.5C alive.

COP28 summit:

A Climate for Change: Adaptation and the National Trust report here