UK’s Slow Response to Climate Change Heavily Criticised by Committee

The Climate Change Committee has heavily criticized the UK government’s plans to adapt to the coming climate catastrophe. Here’s the full story.

Poor Record

Rishi Sunak’s government does not have the best record when it comes to keeping up with climate change targets set to prevent the impending climate catastrophe. Such is the extent of their lack of consideration for climate issues that Sunak recently rolled back on the UK’s net zero target, which could be compared to him warming up his violin as he waits for Rome to burn. 

The United Kingdom’s efforts to adapt to the ever-escalating impacts of the climate catastrophe have been so lacklustre that they have come under extreme scrutiny from the government’s own statutory adviser, the Climate Change Committee (CCC).

Comprehensive and Incriminating

In a comprehensive and incriminating assessment, the CC evaluated the national adaptation programme unveiled by the government in July, stating that the plans “fall far short” of the necessary measures to mitigate the effects of extreme weather events, which will become increasingly likely as climate change worsens. 

The government’s programme outlined strategies for safeguarding critical infrastructure, such as transportation, energy, and telecommunications networks, against the intensifying threats of storms, floods, heatwaves, and droughts fueled by global heating. 

However, the committee’s verdict was damning: there was no credible plan to ensure the nation’s resilience against extreme weather events.

“Adaptation is Not Working”

Julia King, chair of the CCC’s adaptation subcommittee, was uncharacteristically blunt in her assessment, stating, “The evidence of the damage from climate change has never been clearer, but the UK’s current approach to adaptation is not working.”

Despite improvement over previous iterations, the latest plan, Nap3, was deemed inadequate. It failed to address more than half of the immediate actions necessary to tackle urgent risks from extreme weather, as identified in the latest risk assessment. The subsequent risk assessment is not due until 2028.

King emphasized the urgent need for immediate action, stating, “Defra needs to deliver an immediate strengthening of the government’s programme, with an overhaul of its integration with other government priorities such as net zero and nature restoration. We cannot wait another five years for only incremental improvement.”

No Oversight

The report highlighted several areas of concern, including the government’s failure to prioritise adaptation, insufficient funding, and inadequate collaboration across departments. There was also little to no oversight of the plans currently in place. 

The National Infrastructure Commission’s commissioner, Jim Hall, emphasized the importance of incorporating resilience measures into infrastructure projects, especially considering the substantial investments planned by utilities and other sectors. The inadequacy of the government’s climate plans has sparked public outcry, with environmental groups like Friends of the Earth planning to take legal action. 

Mike Childs, the group’s head of policy, stated, “It’s clear that government plans to protect people, property and infrastructure from the escalating climate crisis are unfit for purpose and must be improved.” 

He continued, “Ministers must do more to face up to the reality of climate change, including faster action to end our reliance on costly fossil fuels and a robust plan to help safeguard people’s lives and livelihoods from the consequences of a rapidly warming planet.

Sluggish Response

The Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) echoed these sentiments, criticizing the government’s sluggish response to mitigating and adapting to climate change.

As if the government’s inaction at home was not bad enough, Gareth Redmond-King, the head of the international programme at ECIU, pointed out that government inaction on climate change abroad could lead to food shortages.

Redmond-King stated, “If we don’t support other nations to adapt, then harvests of staples such as rice, bananas and tea will fall, leading to shortages and higher prices.”

Record-Breaking Temperatures

Recent weather trends are not encouraging. There have been record-breaking temperatures and levels of rainfall, persistent rain is washing crops out of the ground, and high temperatures are playing havoc with pollinators like bees, who’ve awoken from their winter slumber only to find there is no food available. 

In its defence, a government spokesperson stated, “We are investing billions in projects to improve the UK’s climate resilience, including £5.2bn in flood and coastal schemes in England, safeguarding future water supplies by accelerating £2.2bn of investment through our ambitious plan for water, and driving tree planting and peat restoration through the £750m nature for climate fund.”

Despite this, the climate crisis continues to intensify, and the inadequacy of the UK’s adaptation plans raises severe concerns about the nation’s preparedness to confront the extreme weather the climate catastrophe will bring. 

The post UK’s Slow Response to Climate Change Heavily Criticised by Committee first appeared on Pulse365.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Phil Maddocks.

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