Environment Agency CEO warns that UK climate change impacts are hitting ‘worst case scenario’ levels
- Published: Wednesday, 24 February 2021 09:52
Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency, has told a panel session at the Association of British Insurers annual conference that the UK is ‘seeing the impacts of the climate emergency hitting worst case scenario’ levels.
Sir James set out the increasing challenges that the Environment Agency and the wider UK are facing in tackling the extreme weather brought by climate change. He said that globally the ‘reasonable worst case scenario’ for climate are:
- Much higher sea levels will take out most of the world’s cities, displace millions, and make much of the rest of our land surface uninhabitable or unusable.
- Much more extreme weather will kill more people through drought, flooding, wildfires and heatwaves than most wars have.
- The net effects will collapse ecosystems, slash crop yields, take out the infrastructure that our civilisation depends on, and destroy the basis of the modern economy and modern society.
“If that sounds like science fiction let me tell you something you need to know,” stated Sir James. “This is that over the last few years the reasonable worst case for several of the flood incidents the EA has responded to has actually happened, and it’s getting larger. That is why our thinking needs to change faster than the climate. And why our response needs to match the scale of the challenge.”
Sir James called on governments, organizations, and the public to put the same effort into tackling the ‘unseen pandemic’ of the climate emergency as we have tackling COVID.
“The climate emergency is the unseen pandemic, because left unchecked it will kill more people, and do much more harm, than COVID-19,” said Sir James. “In the same way we have to work together to tackle COVID-19, it follows that we will get the environment we pay for, we will get the climate we work for.”