The independent Climate Change Committee (CCC) have highlighted that action to improve the nation’s resilience is failing to keep pace with the impacts of a warming planet and increasing climate risks facing the UK.
The Independent Assessment of UK Climate Risk Report is a comprehensive assessment led by the CCC and considers risks and opportunities affecting every aspect of life in the UK.
The UK is experiencing widespread changes in its climate; average land temperature has risen by around 1.2°C from pre-industrial levels, UK sea levels have risen by 16cm since 1900 and episodes of extreme heat are becoming more frequent. Since the CCC’s last assessment five years ago, over 570,000 new homes have been built that are not resilient to future high temperatures and since 2018 over 4,000 heat-related deaths have been recorded in England.
People, nature, and infrastructure are vulnerable to a range of climate impacts today and these will only increase in the coming years as the climate continues to change. The longer the action is delayed addressing the risk, the higher the costs the Government and the UK public will face. Leadership from the UK Government and Governments in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland must result in increasing efforts to adapt to climate change.
Baroness Brown, chair of the CCC Adaptation Committee said:
“The severity of the risks we face must not be underestimated. These risks will not disappear as the world moves to Net Zero; many of them are already locked in. By better understanding and preparing for the coming changes, the UK can prosper, protecting its people, its economy, and its natural environment. A detailed, effective action plan that prepares the UK for climate change is now essential and needed urgently.”
Across the UK, nearly 60% of the risks and opportunities assessed in the report have been given the highest urgency score. The CCC identified eight priority areas which need immediate attention in the next two years.
The CCC believe there are strong benefits from taking effective adaption action. The assessment identifies a range of steps that will have benefits in the next five years if implemented on a wide scale, such as buildings design and retrofit, habitat creation and improved access to information on climate impacts. Importantly, while the changing climate also creates some opportunities for the UK, these do not offset the risks and require early action to realise.
The UK Government has an important role in the delivery of actions, delivering an action plan to support good adaption planning across the UK and integration into Government plans and policies, particularly those already in progress.
Full details of the report can be found in the Resources Section