The UK government is failing to act on worsening climate risks for people, independent climate advisers have warned.
The latest Climate Change Committee report has revealed over 60 risks to people’s health, homes, infrastructure, environment and the economy.
But new evidence has sparked “alarm” over government inaction, despite UK having the “capacity and resources” to tackle growing dangers.
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. Read more about the importance of climate adaptation in our latest advice to Government. https://t.co/qyQARELVPQ #UKClimateRisk pic.twitter.com/j2tu9BL39x— Climate Change Committee (@theCCCuk) June 16, 2021
The official advisers noted people in the UK are already at risk of illness and death from high temperatures, but said things are set to get worse.
“The latest UK Climate Projections show a hot summer like 2018 is likely to occur every other year by 2050, by which time the number of heat-related deaths could more than triple from today’s level in the absence of additional adaptation,” the report read.
It added many existing and new homes could become “uninhabitable” as temperatures rise.
And although the government is set to build hundreds of thousands of homes, it has not yet set to protect current and future buildings from overheating, which is a top UK climate risk.
The report said: “There is a major risk of lock-in if they are not planned and built to address overheating alongside energy efficiency and low-carbon heating. Inaction now will create unnecessary retrofit costs later and could even leave many existing and new homes uninhabitable as temperatures rise.”
Risks to food and electricity
There are also risks to food and other goods, with advisers warning extreme weather is already disrupting supply chains, a problem which is predicted to worsen.
They recommended strenghtening supply chains should be a government priority for post-pandemic recovery – and that this includes ongoing discussions over new trade deals which the UK government is chasing post-Brexit.
Officials have also highlighted the UK will become more dependent on electricity as a main energy source in the next three decades.
But they said climate-relate hazards will also become more “common and damaging” as population reliance on electricity increases.
The report read: “People and the economy will be increasingly exposed and vulnerable to electricity system failures.
“Ensuring the UK has a power system that is resilient to future climate impacts is now an urgent issue.”
The current CCC risk assessment involved the work of 450 people, 130 organisations and over 1,500 pages of evidence – providing in-depth analysis of the climate change risks faced by the UK.
The CCC’s last reports from 2016 and 2019 both warned the UK was poorly prepared for climate crisis-related problems such as water shortages, floods, heatwaves.
A government spokesperson told The Guardian: “We welcome this report and will consider its recommendations closely as we continue to demonstrate global leadership on climate change ahead of COP26 in November.”
The government is consulting on regulations to reduce the risk of overheating in new residential buildings, the website has reported.