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Environment

Climate crisis means ‘more flooding, more frequently’, warns Labour

Shadow environment secretary Luke Pollard has called on the UK government to decarbonise faster, following “shocking” London flooding.

The flash flooding seen in London and across the world should be a “wake-up call” to ministers ahead of COP26, Labour has said.

Luke Pollard, the shadow environment secretary, warned there will be “more floods, more frequently”, as homes, roads and tube stations were flooded in the UK capital overnight.

More than 200 people died in floods in western Europe last week, with the majority of deaths in Germany and Belgium. China has also seen severe flooding in recent days.

Pollard said the turbulent weather around the world was a consequence of the climate crisis, as he called on the government to act faster on reducing emissions and improving the resilience of homes and businesses.

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“In the middle of a climate and ecological crisis that we’re in, there will be more floods, more frequently,” he said.

World leaders will gather in Glasgow later this year for the United Nations Climate Change Conference, known as COP26.

“Leading up to COP26, these flooding events that we’re seeing need to be a wake-up call to the government to go faster, to decarbonise faster and importantly to improve resilience,” argued Pollard.

“Because we will be seeing more severe weather more frequently, and that means we need all our homes, all our businesses, to be more resilient from the effects of severe weather, but we also need to make sure that government is more responsive to help communities affected by that severe weather as well.”

Homes, roads and tube stations were flooded in London yesterday evening. Major incidents were declared at two hospitals in London – Whipps Cross and Newham – with patients urged to stay away after their emergency departments were hit by flooding.

Callum Winn, 25, a marketing creative, waded through knee-deep water as he exited Hackney Wick station in east London yesterday afternoon.

“There was a big, quite shocking flood,” Winn told The Big Issue. “Cars were half-submerged, and it was covering the whole area.”

He added: “The water was up to my knee and it definitely wasn’t just rainwater. There was definitely a smell to it as well.”

Project manager Will Knox-Walker, 35, put up a barricade outside his home in Newham, east London to prevent water from breaching.

“We were very lucky, our house did not flood, but our neighbours’ houses have been flooded,” he said, adding: “I would say maybe five more centimetres, it would have started to come into our house.”

The floods come only two weeks after parts of London were also submerged underwater on July 12.

Jon Stone, a journalist for The Independent, had to evacuate his basement flat in Kilburn, northwest London, after a short period of torrential rain.

“When I realised it wasn’t just going to be a bit of water on the floor I started dashing around and tactically trying to save stuff like passports and electronics, and lift plug adapters off the floor – I’m glad I was at home or we could have lost a lot more stuff,” he told The Big Issue. 

“The dashing quickly turned into wading and I was a bit worried I might get electrocuted, which thankfully didn’t happen.”

Stone, who was due to move in a few days, took a minicab to his new unfurnished home along with a phone charger, blankets and cushions. “It would have been a lot worse for people without anywhere to go,” he said.

All the basement flats in his street were flooded, he said. 

“In the end, we lost a laptop, our TV, and literally all our clothes smelled of floodwater and had to be washed, even if they were dry,” he added.” But we probably got off very lightly compared to some people.”

St James’s Park in central London was the wettest part of the country on Sunday, with 41.6mm of rain.

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