Waves crashing over the breakwater at Porthcawl, a small lighthouse in the distance

Call for evidence on communicating long-term existential climate threats

Our role as the National Infrastructure Commission for Wales is to advise on the infrastructure Wales needs. We assess Wales’ economic and environmental infrastructure needs over the next 5 – 80 years, conduct studies into our most pressing infrastructure challenges and make recommendations to the Welsh Government. Our outlook to 2100 enables us to take a long term view on issues and make bold and radical recommendations for change which will improve the lives of the people and communities of Wales.

We have begun work looking at the long-term existential climate threats to infrastructure faced by some Welsh communities and we plan to produce a report that makes recommendations to Welsh Ministers that will help public bodies better engage and involve communities in the response.

What do we mean by long-term existential climate threats?

Welsh communities and infrastructure face a range of risks including:

  • The impact of more frequent flooding and coastal erosion
  • The impact of extreme and rising temperatures, high winds, lightning and precipitation
  • The impacts from changes to the natural environment brought about by climate change.

Some of these risks may make it difficult to maintain infrastructure and protect it from worsening weather conditions and events like continued increased average temperatures and more frequent and severe heat waves.

The Climate Change Committee has warned that annual temperatures in Wales are expected to rise between approximately 1.2°C by the 2050s, and between 1.3 and 2.3°C by the 2080s from a 1981-2000 baseline. Our climate will shift towards wetter winters and drier summers. In winter, rainfall is expected to increase by approximately 6% by the 2050s from a 1981-2000 baseline. Conversely, summer rainfall is expected to decrease by approximately 15% by the 2050s and by between 18% to 26% by the 2080s.

The majority of the Welsh population live in coastal areas, with some communities existing below the high tideline. Key pieces of national infrastructure are located within metres of the tideline. Wales’ coastal communities are at risk because of continued sea-level rises. Using scenarios for Cardiff, the Climate Change Committee expects the sea-level to rise by between approximately 22 and 28 cm by the 2050s and by approximately 43 to 76 cm by the 2080s. However, these defences do not sufficiently manage the existing risk of coastal erosion, and climate change and sea level rise will further reduce their efficacy.

In the coming years, public bodies will need to engage communities on these threats. It is likely that in some parts of Wales, decisions will need to be taken to adopt a ‘managed retreat’. Other communities may need additional defences or adaptations. Different approaches may need to be taken about how we manage our local and national infrastructure assets in the context of increasing risk.

What types of communities are we interested in?

The National Infrastructure Commission for Wales is interested in receiving evidence and views regarding any community facing increased risk from more frequent flooding and coastal erosion, extreme and rising temperatures, high winds, lightning and precipitation; changes to the natural environment brought about by climate change.

We also want to understand how different and diverse individuals and communities might be impacted differently.

Purpose of this Call for Evidence & Views

Receiving evidence will help the National Infrastructure Commission for Wales undertake further work in this area. In 2025 we will publish a report and make recommendations to the Welsh Government.

We are keen to hear from members of the public, organisations and stakeholders. The call for evidence aims to:

  • bring together information and evidence about communities at risk of long-term climate risks.
  • collect ideas, opinions and views about the infrastructure issues facing communities and how they might be addressed
  • collect ideas and views on how public bodies might best engage with communities
  • identify interested stakeholders already working in this area.

Issues to help you respond

You can submit evidence or a point of view about any matter which in your opinion is relevant. We are keen to hear about some issues in particular, which we outline below.

Awareness of the long-term existential threats

  • Current levels of awareness amongst the general public at a local, Wales and UK level.
  • How levels of awareness might be affected by factors including age, income, location, and the background of individuals and communities.

Existing ways of engagement on long-term existential threats

  • Examples of where communities have already been engaged.
  • How engagement efforts may or may not be adapted to the different/diverse needs of individuals or communities.
  • Challenges and barriers that exist in engaging communities.
  • Effectiveness of different communication channels and platforms including social media, traditional media, community engagement.

Communicating the problem of long-term existential threats

  • Barriers to effectively communicating long-term existential threats across Wales. How might these barriers be overcome?
  • Good practice in threat/risk communication/engagement from other fields (such as disaster management and public health) which might be adapted
  • How data and evidence are best communicated.
  • The use of storytelling and narrative approaches.
  • Examples where communication has or hasn’t made a difference.

Impact of communication and engagement on long-term existential threats

  • Examples where community engagement has informed decisions by public bodies.
  • Examples where the views of communities have been disregarded by public bodies.
  • Examples of good and bad practices from across the UK and Internationally on how communities have been engaged at a local and national/strategic level.

How can I submit evidence?

We accept comments by post and by email. We will be accepting responses until 30 November 2023.

Send your responses to: evidence@nationalinfrastructurecommission.wales

Post your responses to: Climate Threat Call for Evidence, National Infrastructure Commission for Wales, ℅ Planning Division, Welsh Government, Cathays Park, Cardiff, CF10 3NQ