The story of the Broads National Park is inherently linked to our changing climate. The easterly, low-lying and coastal nature of the Broads landscape makes it particularly vulnerable to the predicted impacts of climate change and sea level rise, including coastal and river flooding.
At the same time, our wetland landscape has been steadily sequestering carbon since the end of the last ice age, and now stores some 44,000,000 tonnes of CO2. In context, that is close to the amount of CO2 produced by the generation of electricity in the UK in 2020.
We need to plan now for the changes ahead, such as wetter winters, drier and hotter summers, and more frequent extreme events like storms and heavy rainfall, to lessen negative impacts and make the best use of positive opportunities.
If you are looking for ways to reduce your own carbon footprint, we recommend you visit the “Low Impact Living” guide produced by the Suffolk Creating the Greenest County initiative. This can be found at: https://www.greensuffolk.org/low-impact-living/
We are committed to making the Broads National Park into a Zero Carbon area. To understand our starting point, we worked with the other UK National Parks to commission a baseline survey from Lancaster University based Small World Consulting Ltd, to estimate the carbon footprint of the Broads. The full report can be read online.
This showed that the footprint of the Broads could be broken down into the following areas;
- Energy Only GHG - 123,414 tonnes of CO2e
- Food & Drink – 107,807 tonnes CO2e
- Travel to and from the Broads – 102,317 tonnes CO2e
- Land use – 145,236 tonnes CO2e
- Other – 38,603 tonnes CO2e
Some of these footprints will require national change – for instance, the energy footprint of the Broads will reduce as the national electricity grid moves towards a zero carbon basis.
We will therefore focus our efforts on the local changes that need to be made, by enabling the transition to zero carbon boating, and ensuring that visitors travel to and from the park via sustainable transport. We are also working with farmers and the government to develop low carbon farming practices, including wetland farming to reduce emissions from peat in the broads.
Broads Climate Adaptation Plan
Our most recent Climate Adaptation Plan was published in 2016. The full report and the summary are available at the links below.
The Broads Authority adopted a climate statement on 27 September 2019:
"Humans have already caused irreversible climate change, the impacts of which are being felt around the world. The consequences of global temperature rising above 1.5°C are so severe that preventing this from happening must be humanity’s number one priority.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C told us that limiting global warming to 1.5°C may still be possible with ambitious action from national authorities, civil society, the private sector and local communities. It is imperative that all countries work together to reduce our carbon equivalent emissions from the current 6.5 tonnes per person per year to less than 2 tonnes as soon as possible.
Individuals cannot be expected to make this reduction on their own. All government bodies (national, regional and local) have a duty to limit the negative impacts of climate breakdown, and local governments that recognise this should not wait for their national governments to change their policies.
Therefore, this Authority resolves to:
- Recognises a climate emergency and adopts the Statement in Appendix 1 of the report.
- Pledges to work towards making the Broads Authority ‘carbon neutral’ by 2030, with a further objective of reducing all carbon emissions to zero by 2040.
- Establishes a baseline for CO2 emissions using a common methodology with the National Park Authorities and develops an Action Plan and monitoring system.
- Works with its constituent local authorities to reduce emissions from domestic, travel and other sources in the Broads and across the two counties.
- Works with farmers, land managers, the National Farmers Union and Defra to influence land management practices, to maintain and build organic matter and carbon in soil, to improve biodiversity and store water to protect against flooding and drought. Works with boating and tourism organisations to continue promoting and developing environmentally friendly boating and sustainable tourism.
- Aspires to offsetting carbon emissions locally within the Broads via a Broads offsetting scheme."
Visit our what we are doing page to find out more.
Broadland Futures Initiative
To support the communities in the Broads to adapt to the risks posed by climate change, in particular flooding risk driven by rising sea levels, the Broadland Futures Initiative.
For more information, please visit our Broadland Futures Initiative page.