How one resident faced the sudden onslaught of floodwaters

In June, Leicester saw the impact of the climate crisis after intense flash floodings affected homes, roads, and businesses.

Several cars on a Leicester road struggle through floodwaters © Craig Thurlow
Several cars on a Leicester road struggle through floodwaters
Supported by:
De Montfort University

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A Leicester resident, who asked not to be named, said she "didn't think anything of the rain when it started falling". Her back garden had been flooded a few years prior, so she was not worried about it affecting the house.

However, she explained, "Within about 20 minutes, we had water coming in through the back, into the kitchen and the conservatory. It was a good couple of inches, and that was when it was a bit of a panic.

"It was quite a lot coming in. Within 10 minutes, the whole bottom floor was covered in water".

After the water went down, she was left with unsanitary carpets, broken kitchen units and damaged furniture. 

"I told my daughter to stand on the stairs so I could give her things to take upstairs, any boxes, any books, any iPads, laptops, anything I could save, I just sent it up.

"We couldn’t have mealtimes, couldn't really cook and couldn't really prepare anything".

Leicester City Council stated they have "been working in close partnership with the Environment Agency on a multimillion pound programme of investment across the city's waterways that has reduced flood risk to thousands of homes and businesses". 

They also said that "people should always consider how they can prepare and protect their own homes and property to minimise the risk of flood damage and also ensure they have adequate insurance".

What is the council doing to prevent further climate disasters?

Leicester City Council declared a climate emergency in 2019 and set out the first phase of its "Climate Emergency Strategy" in 2020. The three-year strategy sets out the initial stages of becoming a carbon-neutral, climate-adapted city by 2030. Carbon neutrality is where the levels of emitting carbon from human intervention and absorbing carbon from the atmosphere level out to achieve zero emissions.

The Climate Emergency Strategy lists ways to achieve this by installing low-carbon heating in council houseselectric shuttle buses, implementing recycling projects for flats, and much more.

However, the Climate Emergency Strategy does not cover the de-investment of oil and gas companies. 

Climate Action Leicester and Leicestershire are running a campaign to stop various councils, including Leicester City Council, from investing millions of pounds from the Leicestershire Local Government Pension Scheme into the production of fossil fuels. 

Climate Action Member Zina Zelter said, "It's not that we’re trying to get them to stop investing in companies that use fossil fuels because pretty much every company uses them. It is very much the people producing it.

"They [the council] are still putting their profits into new oil and gas fields even though if we burn only a fraction of what's in the current oil and gas fields, the world will go well over 2°C of global warming.

"When they continue to open up new fields when they cannot even sell what's in the old fields without pushing the world into catastrophic climate change, you know they're not serious about tackling climate change".

Investing in these companies unintentionally signals that the public supports the behaviour of the companies.

"When pension funds worldwide stopped investing in apartheid South Africa, that was a big deal because they were removing its moral licence. We were basically saying, 'We don't support this anymore'".

Zelter also mentioned the financial risk of investing in these companies. While they are profitable now, the world is moving towards renewable energy, so oil and gas companies will likely see a loss down the line.

Councillors unanimously passed a July motion asking the council to divest from fossil fuel producers. Further motions are now going out to other councils in the county with hopes to see results before the end of the year.

Zelter said: "Climate change is all around us, and it's really severe. But it is going to get massively worse unless we reign it in. We are at a tipping point, and we could choose to say, 'Oh, there's nothing we can do about it'. Or we can say, 'No, we have to try. We have to do the best we can'. 

"We cannot stop it, but we can at least minimise or mitigate it".

The council is reviewing the extent of flooding in the city this summer.

You can sign Climate Action's petition here. 

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