Britain unprepared for climate change, committee warns

People walk past a tree with brown leaves in St James' Park in London, Aug 24, 2022. Searing summer temperatures in the UK have not just parched the earth and dried up rivers, lakes and reservoirs but are also seeing trees shed their leaves early. (PHOTO / AFP)

LONDON – A committee of experts has criticized the British government for its lack of preparation in tackling climate change.

The Climate Change Committee said in a report on Wednesday that Britain's first 40 C day in the summer of 2022 "was the clearest indication that climate change has arrived in this country."

The committee, made up mainly of academics with expertise in climate issues, acting as official advisers on climate to the UK government, is an independent statutory body set up to advise the British and devolved governments on emissions targets. It also reports to the British government on progress being made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and preparing for climate change.

"Last year's record-breaking temperatures brought unprecedented heat-related deaths, wildfire incidents and significant infrastructure disruption," the report said. "The impacts of climate change will intensify over coming decades, leaving the UK vulnerable without better resilience planning and preparation."

Baroness Brown, chair of the CCC's Adaptation Committee, said: "The Government's lack of urgency on climate resilience is in sharp contrast to the recent experience of people in this country.

"People, nature and infrastructure face damaging impacts as climate change takes hold. These impacts will only intensify in the coming decades," the professor added.

"This has been a lost decade in preparing for and adapting to the known risks that we face from climate change. Each month that passes without action locks in more damaging impacts and threatens the delivery of other key government objectives, including Net Zero," Brown said.

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The British government is to publish its third National Adaptation Program this summer.

"This is a make-or-break moment to avoid a further five years of lackluster planning and preparation for the changing climate by Defra (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)," said the report.