Water crises rated high risk
- Business & Industry ,
Water crises and failure to adapt to climate change rank as two of the top five global risks, according to experts polled by the World Economic Forum (WEF) for its annual meeting in Davos.
WEF asked nearly 900 experts, including academics, risk analysts and business people, to rank the top five global risks in terms of likelihood and potential impact over the next 10 years. Water was ranked as the issue to have the biggest impact, ahead of the rapid spread of infectious disease, weapons of mass destruction and interstate conflict. Failure to progress climate change adaptation was fifth.
More environmental risks featured at the top of the list than economic ones, WEF analysts noted. This is due to a marked increase in experts' negative views of how well society is adapted to cope with challenges, such as extreme weather and climate change, rather than a reduction of fears over economic risks, they believe. Major biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse were assessed as high impact by respondents, but below average in terms of likelihood, WEF said.
In a separate survey, WEF asked business leaders what risks were most significant to them in terms of doing business in their particular country. UK respondents ranked economic risks, such as failure of financial mechanisms or institutions and global oil price shocks, as more significant than environmental ones, including water, which came 12th. Failure to effectively address climate change adaptation was ranked 15th.
The survey findings came as charity Business in the Community called on businesses to take action on water. Its water taskforce, which is chaired by Steve Mogford, chief exectuvie at United Utilities, has launched a three-year action programme to encourage business to safeguard water supplies and improve their resilience to flooding and water shortages.
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.