Climate change threatens overseas supply chains
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The impact of climate change around the world poses a much greater threat to the UK economy than its effects nationally, says business services company PwC in a report for the environment department
The study considered the threats and opportunities under an emissions scenario consistent with a 2OC rise in global temperatures and found that threats significantly outweigh opportunities.
Short-term risks include damage to the overseas assets of UK companies and rising price volatility for food, energy and other traded resources – and these risks are likely to be amplified by protectionist reactions to extreme weather events. Longer term, a changing climate will undermine the resilience of global supply chains for many key resources, says PwC.
The report highlights the relatively large amount of UK investment abroad (£9.9 trillion in 2010), and says this exposes domestic investors and the insurance industry to damages to physical and financial assets from climate-related events. It points out the floods in Thailand in 2011 cost Lloyd’s of London £1.4 billion.
PwC’s analysis also draws attention to the UK’s reliance on food imports, which account for nearly half of its food consumption, and the risks to these supplies from climate change, reporting that the 2008 and 2011 rises in global food prices were triggered by drought overseas.
Opportunities identified by the research include the increased potential for UK companies to export its climate adaptation goods and services.
Meanwhile, the United Nations says 2013 should be a “turning point” in how governments view and respond to extreme weather, particularly floods, such as those recently in Canada and central Europe.
“Many countries have experienced huge losses over the last two months due to intense precipitation events, which have triggered extreme flooding,” said UN special representative for disaster risk reduction, Margareta Wahlström.
“When we look at the worldwide escalation in economic losses from disasters over the last five years, it is clear that our exposure to extreme events is growing and this trend needs to be addressed through better land use and more resilient infrastructure.”
The Environment Agency has successfully prosecuted Southern Water for thousands of illegal raw sewage discharges that polluted rivers and coastal waters in Kent, resulting in a record £90m fine.
In Elliott-Smith v Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the claimant applied for judicial review of the legality of the defendants’ joint decision to create the UK Emissions Trading Scheme (UK ETS) as a substitute for UK participation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS).
None of England’s water and sewerage companies achieved all environmental expectations for the period 2015 to 2020, the Environment Agency has revealed. These targets included the reduction of total pollution incidents by at least one-third compared with 2012, and for incident self-reporting to be at least 75%.
Global greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture are projected to increase by 4% over the next 10 years, despite the carbon intensity of production declining. That is according to a new report from the UN food agency and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which forecasts that 80% of the increase will come from livestock.
Half of consumers worldwide now consider the sustainability of food and drink itself, not just its packaging, when buying, a survey of 14,000 shoppers across 18 countries has discovered. This suggests that their understanding of sustainability is evolving to include wellbeing and nutrition, with sustainable packaging now considered standard.
Billions of people worldwide have been unable to access safe drinking water and sanitation in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a progress report from the World Health Organisation focusing on the UN’s sixth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 6) – to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030”.
New jobs that help drive the UK towards net-zero emissions are set to offer salaries that are almost one-third higher than those in carbon-intensive industries, research suggests.