Baroness Brown cautions that the country's world-class resources must be better used to cope with the climate crisis.
Britain has some of the best capabilities in the world to deal with the climate crisis, but it is not using it. That is the stark view of leading expert Baroness Brown, a member of the UK's Climate Change Committee (CCC). "We have the ingredients to do good things in response to climate change, but we are not using them," he warned last week.
Brown, who chairs the CCC's subcommittee on adaptation, said little progress had been made in planning to protect farmland and wildlife from intense storms and changing weather systems, or address health threats from the rising heat, with bleak short-term political consequences.
The UK has pledged to persuade other governments at the UN climate change summit in New York this month to commit more to adaptation. But Bob Ward of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment said: "Britain's failure to adapt to our changing climate could severely undermine efforts to persuade other countries to invest more in resilience." The UK may have a good track record of helping poor countries become more resilient, but we are not doing enough. The country needs to lead by example ”.
The UK is bidding to host another international summit, to be held in December 2020, the fifth anniversary of the Paris climate agreement. "If the UK wants to host that crucial summit, which will dictate the path we take to combat global warming, we will have to see that we are doing a lot more about climate change," Ward added.
The country's inability to adapt to changing conditions was underscored this summer when severe flooding brought train schedules to a standstill, temperatures reached record highs and residents of Whaley Bridge, in Derbyshire, were evacuated after heavy rains damaged a dam. in a nearby reservoir.
Much worse is forecast for decades to come, but little is being done to protect the nation's infrastructure, such as adapting nursing homes and hospitals so residents and patients don't suffer as temperatures soar or protecting coastal cities from rising sea levels.
"However, we also have powerful agencies like the Met Office," Brown said. “He is developing detailed climate predictions for regions accurate to within a few kilometers. But we are not making use of these capacities ”.
In fact, the priority given to adapting to these threats has eroded in the last 10 years. "We have been distracted by Brexit," Brown added. He pointed to pressures on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which is tasked with ensuring Britain adjusts to the climate crisis, but has focused on finding replacements for the EU's common agricultural policy and dealing with other issues. related to Brexit.
In July, the CCC warned that the country was not prepared for even a 2 ° C rise in temperatures, much less for more extreme warming. "Many policies still lack a basic recognition of climate change, while others make a passing mention but do not have associated actions to reduce risk."
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