Companies 'must adapt' to climate changeUnited States
Companies are ill-prepared for the floods and droughts that are likely to become more commonplace in an era of global warming, says a survey published on Wednesday by Caroline Spelman, the environment secretary.
Only 23 per cent of businesspeople interviewed had taken any action to counter the impact of climate change, according to the survey by pollsters Ipsos Mori for Defra, the environment department.
That was despite three-quarters of those surveyed saying they were concerned about the impact of more extreme weather patterns on their livelihoods.
Ms Spelman, speaking at the Met Office headquarters in Exeter, warned that climate change was now “unavoidable” and it was necessary for the UK to adapt “head-on”.
“A warmer climate will bring both opportunities and challenges for businesses of all sizes,” she said. “I want to ensure that UK businesses are well placed to take advantage of the new opportunities that arise, as well as ensuring they are ready for the difficulties that higher temperatures and more adverse weather could mean for their staff and working practices.”
Ms Spelman claimed that the business opportunities created by climate change included sectors such as construction and retro-fitting, water management, tourism, transport and food production. But companies should also prepare for the negative impact of changing weather, including more regular flooding and droughts.
Defra also published its formal response on Wednesday to Adapting to Climate Change, the environment audit committee’s report.
It acknowledged expectations that spending on flood prevention was likely to be cut in the October spending round as Defra sought reductions of up to 40 per cent in its overall budget. The department said the gov¬ernment would take forward the findings of the recent Pitt Review, on how to improve flood defences, but that this had to be done in the light of the “priority” deficit-reduction programme.
The insurance industry warned on Wednesday it would be a “false economy” to cut back on investment in flood defences, given that each £1 spent on protection could save £8 for the economy.
Nick Starling, director of health and insurance at the Association of British Insurers, said flooding should remain a “priority issue” during the autumn spending review.
“People who have experienced a flood first hand know all too well the terrible impact flooding has on communities, homes and livelihoods,” he said.
“We all know public spending is being squeezed, but cutting back on investment in flood defences would be a false economy. Damage done to schools and hospitals, not to mention homes and businesses, can cost billions to repair.”
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