Defra urges firms to prepare for climate change

4th July 2013

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  • Corporate governance ,
  • Adaptation



Organisations must take action to adapt to the changing climate, says Defra, as figures confirm the world experienced "unprecedented" extreme weather during 2001-10

The environment department has called on businesses, local authorities and communities to consider how they will cope with the impact of future climate change.

In the its first national adaptation programme (NAP), Defra draws on the findings of its climate change risk assessment, published last year, and outlines the actions needed by organisations and government bodies to ensure the UK’s climate change resilience.

Defra urges private sector firms to take more action to incorporate adaptation into business models, and warns, in particular, of the risks of supply chain disruption, highlighting recent research from PwC that found climate change impacts overseas are likely to cost the UK economy hundreds of millions of pounds by 2050.

The NAP says the government will ensure the country’s infrastructure is designed and built to cope with extreme weather events and will seek to “build the resilience” of native species and habitats. It will also offer support to local authorities and organisations to develop a business case for adaptation. Help will be targeted at small and medium-sized businesses, so they better understand how climate change will impact their operations as well as how to prepare for change through the development of tools and sharing data.

“The government will also encourage businesses to review their strategic frameworks and models, promote knowledge sharing in areas of good practice and target support for those sectors facing the highest risks or greatest barriers to adaptation,” states the NAP.

The Environment Agency’s climate ready support service is cited as providing the bulk of the government’s advice to businesses on adaptation, but the NAP also highlights the guidance published by bodies including IEMA, EEF, the British Retail Consortium and the Federation for Small Businesses.

“Recent floods and droughts have highlighted the need to plan ahead and prepare for changing conditions,” said environment minister Lord de Mauley, launching the NAP.

“Businesses, government and local communities must ensure they are equipped to deal with the challenges ahead and embrace the opportunities that arise, both at home and overseas.”

The 184-page NAP document outlines 31 government objectives on climate change adaption covering infrastructure, buildings , business, local government and the natural environment. The NAP primarily focuses on England, with the devolved governments each planning to publish their own adaptation plans before the end of the year.

The UK government’s call for better climate change adaptation came as the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) published data confirming that 2001-10 was the warmest decade since records began in 1850, and the second wettest since 1901.

According to the WMO, more national temperature records were broken between 2001 and 2010 than in any previous decade, global sea levels rose 3mm a year – almost double the rate seen during the 20th Century – and 2010 was the wettest year on record.

2001-10 also saw cyclone activity in the North Atlantic Basin rise to levels not experienced since 1855, and, in the North Indian Ocean, the deadliest tropical cyclone ever seen struck in May 2008.

WMO figures confirm that more than 370,000 people died as a result of extreme weather and climate conditions during 2001-10, 20% more than the previous decade.


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