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. That is the conclusion of a comprehensive independent assessment led by the Climate Change Committee (CCC) which considered a catalogue of risks and opportunities affecting every aspect of life in the UK.
The UK is experiencing widespread changes in the 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 5 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 already 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 action to address these risks is delayed, 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 to ensure that societal, economic, and environmental goals remain achievable in the face of climate change.
Baroness Brown, Chair of the 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.”