IEMA has today urged the UK government to focus on developing green skills and expertise across business, industry and civil society following the publication of an alarming report from the Climate Change Committee (CCC).
The CCC's independent assessment of UK climate risk (CCRA3) warns that action to improve the nation’s resilience is failing to keep pace with the impacts of global warming and increasing climate risks.
It highlights how average UK land temperature has risen by around 1.2°C from pre-industrial levels, with sea levels rising by 16cm since 1900, and episodes of extreme heat becoming more frequent.
Despite this, more than 570,000 new homes have been built that are not resilient to future high temperatures since the CCC’s last assessment five years ago, while over 4,000 heat-related deaths have been recorded in England since 2018.
The government's independent climate advisors highlighted how people, nature, and infrastructure will become increasingly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, and urged ministers to place greater focus on adaptation measures.
IEMA’s director of policy and external affairs, Martin Baxter, said: “The impacts of climate change are happening now, in that context it is disappointing to see the CCC’s announcement today stating that the government is currently falling short in enhancing the nation’s climate resilience to the growing threat.
“In the midst of the climate emergency, failure to act now will leave the UK underprepared for the challenges ahead.
“If the response to the impact of the COVID pandemic has taught us one thing it is that government needs to act quickly and follow the best advice – the threat the climate emergency brings to our lives and the future of our environment requires our leaders to take action today.
“The CCC has provided a comprehensive analysis of the many risks and limited opportunities that lie ahead – adapting to the impact of a changing climate while taking action to deliver net zero will require a focus on the development of skills and expertise across business, industry and civil society.
“This in an area that is pivotal to mobilising a timely response to the climate emergency and the reason why IEMA is calling on the government to develop a green jobs and skills strategy.”
The CCC report identifies eight priority risk areas which need immediate attention within the next two years, including:
1) Risks to the viability and diversity of terrestrial and freshwater habitats and species from multiple hazards 2) Risks to soil health from increased flooding and drought 3) Risks to natural carbon stores and sequestration from multiple hazards, leading to increased emissions 4) Risks to crops, livestock and commercial trees from multiple climate hazards 5) Risks to supply of food, goods and vital services due to climate-related collapse of supply chains and distribution networks 6) Risks to people and the economy from climate-related failure of the power system 7) Risks to human health, wellbeing and productivity from increased exposure to heat in homes and other buildings 8) Multiple risks to the UK from climate change impacts overseas.
It also identifies a range of steps that will have benefits in the next five years if implemented on a wide scale, such as building design and retrofit, habitat creation and improved access to information on climate impacts.
IEMA policy lead, Nick Blyth, who contributed to the report, said: “Extreme weather, climate action failure and human-led environmental damage are among the highest likelihood global risks over the next 10 years.
“Today’s report and the accompanying publications, amply demonstrate this for the UK. As the UK builds back better, there is now an imperative for a ‘joined-up’ approach on climate policy across all government departments.
“The recent proposal by BEIS for mandatory climate-related financial disclosures is useful in this context.
“Within IEMA’s response to this we stated how the information and resources within CCRA3, could potentially inform new guidance, helping companies respond effectively and consistently to better address these new disclosure requirements.
“Today’s CCC report and publications include some excellent advice for government and highlights a range of opportunities for government action and policy integration.”
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