South East England is to change beyond recognition, according to a new report on climate change. Warmer weather will bring in exotic plants, while wiping out native species.

Figs, pomegranates and possibly even olives could appear by 2050, replacing delphiniums and lupins. Currently, two thirds of land in the South East is farmed with traditional crops such as potatoes and strawberries.

Hedgehogs face extinction by 2025, because slugs, their main source of food, will dry up in persistent 30C August temperatures, and beech trees would struggle against gales and drought.

Carbon emissions, however, may be greatly reduced as more people stay in England for their summer holidays – although events such as the Henley regatta may come under increasing threat from flash floods.

According to the report, carbon emissions will need to be cut by 80 per cent by 2050 to prevent such changes taking place.

The report, ‘Our changing climate, our changing lives – South East’, was drawn up by 11 groups, including the National Trust, National Federation of Women’s Institutes, Woodland Trust and WWF. It was funded by Defra’s Climate Challenge Fund.

Andrea Davies, senior campaigner at the Council for the Protection of Rural England, (CPRE) said: ‘The changes which will alter the appearance of so many of our cherished landscapes in the South East are a wake-up call. Climate change presents us with huge challenges, but there are also opportunities for everyone to take action.’

The new report concludes that South East England is to change beyond recognition, as the warmer weather replaces native species with more exotic plants. The hedgehog also faces

extinction.

Taking action: suggestions from the report

Turn off chargers

The average household has 12 electrical appliances on standby at any one time. Turning them off will cut CO2 and save around £22 each year in electricity charges.

Buy green appliances

Turn the thermostat down

Reducing the thermostat by 1C will save 10 per cent on the annual heating bill, as well as an average of 250kg of carbon.

Use rechargeable batteries

These will save up to 10kg of carbon each year.

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