Climate change and the threat to ecological systems has far reaching impacts. Our historic environment is particularly vulnerable to environmental change as flooding, coastal erosion, extreme weather events and changes in the distribution of species and habitats all have the potential to put our historic places at risk. Historic England’s research assesses the risks and opportunities presented by climate change for the historic environment.
Over the past several years we have been working closely with other organisations, on a national and international scale, to understand and address the challenges that the historic environment faces as we move into a period of climate-uncertainty. From looking at how re-using our existing building stock, rather than rebuilding, would help us meet our ambitious carbon targets, to extensive research on increasing energy efficiency in our historic buildings, and understanding how lessons from the past might improve flood resilience, we are committed to working with partners to find the best solutions to manage the most vulnerable parts of our precious heritage.
Climate change mitigation
Climate change ‘mitigation’ refers to measures taken to reduce the greenhouse gases that exacerbate climate change in an attempt to limit future change. This includes things such as energy efficiency, renewable energy generation, and efforts to store and offset carbon. Historic England recognises the importance of climate change mitigation and believes that energy efficiency and sustainable technology are compatible with the conservation of our heritage. We offer guidance on the installation of renewable energy generation and the historic environment, and also on energy efficiency and historic buildings.
Climate change adaptation
Climate change ‘adaptation’ refers to measures taken to adapt to climate change that's already inevitable. We know that even if greenhouse gas emissions were to cease entirely today, there are still climatic changes that we would experience as a consequence of previous emissions: sea level rise, changes in precipitation patterns (more intense downpours, more frequent droughts), warming in average temperatures and changes in storminess. We have set out our approach to adaptation to future climate change in a report to Government in 2016. We're committed to:
- Understanding the impacts of climate change upon the historic environment and our work
- Improving the resilience of our workforce
- Supporting increased resilience in the historic environment
- Embedding climate change adaptation and environmental risk management within projects and practices
- Promoting the positive role the historic environment can play
- Developing an approach for dealing with inevitable change, including loss
- Supporting the English Heritage Trust in addressing climate change impacts on the National Collection