A new risk assessment report released by the United Kingdom’s Committee on Climate Change has presented the many climate change risks that the nation faces. The report, developed over three years and contributed to by over 80 experts, paints a bleak picture of the impacts that the UK could face. Its conclusions will likely add an increased sense of urgency to discussions both within the Westminster government and in the public domain.
The report asserts that internally the UK will face more frequent and severe floods and soaring summer temperatures. The flooding will be of particular concern after the damaging floods that took place throughout the country in 2015. The report also speaks of the less well understood but nevertheless serious dangers presented by a possible increase in pests and diseases. Finally, the threat to farmlands is discussed. This is an uncertain area as changing temperatures could lengthen the growing season, boosting production. However, simultaneously topsoil damage and erosion could cause irreparable harm if not controlled.
The risk assessment also discusses outside threats. Instability in other regions, caused by resource scarcity, could necessitate military intervention and disrupt trade. The trade factor is crucial to the economic prosperity of the UK as well as to the country’s food security. The UK imports 40% of its food and is reliant on a large number of foreign producers for the remainder. Furthermore, a major disruption in virtually any other region could have a profound knock-on impact.
This risk assessment report is more than just a helpful advisory piece. Legally, it must be used by the government in their develop of an adaptation plan. Long-term plans for the environment and for climate change mitigation are currently in development. Time will tell if these plans reflect the sense of urgency conveyed in the report.