Sky News: Now let’s return to the floods now and find out what is causing all of this? Let’s talk to environmentalist and former government adviser Tom Burke, who is in central London, Good morning to you. Are these extreme weather conditions becoming the norm?
Tom Burke: I think they are, you heard the Prime Minister saying the other day that these events are happening more frequently. It’s exactly what scientists have been telling us for a very long time is going to be one of the consequences of climate change. So I think that we are seeing more extreme weather events, not just here in Britain but actually all over the world.
Sky News: Which begs the question, what can we do about it?
Tom Burke: Well, you’ve certainly got to follow through on the Summit that took place in Paris and join in with the rest of the world in stopping this problem from getting any worse. But in the mean time you have got to get much better at dealing with these events which you know are going to happen more frequently.
Sky News: That sounds great Mr Burke, but what does it actually mean?
Tom Burke: Well first and foremost, I think that you’ve got to stop building homes on flood plains, so that you don’t create more exposure to these problems. You’ve also got to make sure that the recovery afterwards is better. A lot of the business that are affected by floods don’t come back. So we need a much more effective, probably government supported, insurance scheme to make sure that the businesses that are affected can come back. We need better long term planning to make sure that the water doesn’t come down the rivers so fast when you have more of these events. So probably planting more trees in uplands will be a very important part of helping to slow down the rate at which the water ends up in our cities.
Sky News: I was going to ask about the deforestation issue is this a time that we need to look at getting the trees back in our environment, to have an impact on this? I mean, even something as environmentally friendly as that is going to take a long time before it has the required impact.
Tom Burke: I think that your right about that. So I think the faster we get on with doing those things the better. Remember that agencies like the Environment Agency, the Climate Change Committee, and the Met Office have been warning for years that these things were going to happen, and by enlarge governments have been very slow to react to foreseeable events. So we have lost a lot of time, and we need to catch that up pretty quickly. We need to concentrate also not just on building engineered flood defenses, but also on maintaining the flood defenses that we’ve got, so that they don’t get overwhelmed when you have these extreme events.
Sky News: Are there any countries that we can take lessons from?
Tom Burke: Not that I know of. I think everywhere all over the world, and Sky News brings us pictures of them, everybody is having real problems dealing with extreme weather events whether they are wildfires, whether they are droughts, whether they are floods, these events are happening everywhere, and governments everywhere are having real problems coping with them. I think that the key thing is to focus on is making sure that this problem doesn’t get worse as the climate changes, and so the faster we reduce our emissions of carbon at least in the long term it will help to reduce our exposure to these events.
Sky News: Tom Burke thanks for your time this morning.