In the days following COP21, there was real optimism that the UK and the rest of the world will commit to reversing the effects of climate change. It appeared that 2016 would be the year of action, where policies would finally be put into practice.
Fast-forward a few months, and the Committee on Climate Change have produced the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment 2017 Evidence Report, which states that the UK is still not prepared for the effects of climate change.
Following an unpredictable political environment where global warming initiatives could easily be forgotten about, it’s important to ensure that the health of both people and the planet is a top priority – and it’s all of our responsibility to challenge Governments, businesses and the public to act.
The global increase in temperature of 0.85 degrees is mirrored in the UK climate, with higher average temperatures and some evidence of more extreme weather events. Average annual UK temperatures have increased in line with global trends, meaning that the UK will not be able to avoid the effects of climate change.
How does this impact the UK?
The CCC report has identified the top six areas of inter-related climate change risks for the UK. Among them, flooding and coastline erosion, shortages of public water supplies and soil degradation are immediate and long term risks that the UK is facing.
The report, which is compiled by 80 different experts over a three year period, will not come as a surprise to many people who are working to combat climate change, but the same question remains – what collective action is required to start tackling climate change?
Pressure on policy makers
During an uncertain period for UK politics, Amber Rudd has delivered a robust response by promising to commit to protecting our environment. In her post EU-referendum statement, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change said: “Climate change has not been downgraded as a threat. It remains one of the most serious long-term risks to our economic and national security”.
This robust response is encouraging, yet the Department for Energy and Climate Change will have more pressure to respond to climate change in the forthcoming years – especially with the formation of a new cabinet.
From a purely environmental law perspective, leaving the EU places us at a crossroads; the DECC can either replace or create strengthened environmental laws that actually meet objectives without the complicated European red tape. Or alternatively there could be darker carbon clouds growing in the distance if they become a lower priority.
Recent history has shown that important and ground breaking initiatives have been scrapped which contribute to reversing the effects of climate change, and public pressure will be key to ensure that our Government keeps the commitment made at COP21 in the foreground.
Lord John Krebs, chair of the CCC’s adaptation sub-committee explains their research:
You can download the CCC Report here:
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