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Climate change demands ‘bold action’, say business leaders



The leaders of some of Britain’s biggest companies have urged the government to address the causes of climate change and encourage investment in low-carbon technologies, in order to reduce the chances of severe flooding affecting the UK in the future.

In a letter sent to the Financial Times, executives from companies such as Allianz, Aviva, Lloyds Banking Group, Swiss Re and the Aldersgate Group describe the damage done by the flooding crisis that still affects many areas.

“Families and livelihoods are being badly hit. The overall costs to those affected and the wider economy will be significant,” they say.

“The type of extreme weather that we are currently experiencing is in line with climate change predictions, which also warn that such events will become more frequent.”

Many commentators, including prime minister David Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband, have said they believe the recent deluge of strong winds and heavy rain that battered many parts of the UK were caused by climate change. 

Though scientists and forecasters have stressed that it is not currently possible to link individual weather events to climate change, they have warned that a warming world is likely to lead to such events happening more often.

The letter continues to call for cross-party cooperation and a forward-thinking approach in the face of this threat, warning that merely adapting floods will leave the UK exposed to future costs. 

“All parties must look beyond the short-term and demonstrate their commitment to creating a low-carbon economy through domestic decisions and international leadership”, it says.

Only bold action will maximise investment and innovation to deliver resilience and future economic competitiveness. Without this the costs will continue to pile up.”

Andrew Raingold, executive director of the Aldersgate Group which co-ordinated the letter, added, “Adapting to the changing climate without addressing the root causes is like dishing out painkillers when we need major surgery.”

A study published earlier this month ranked the UK as being the seventh most exposed nation to economic disruption caused by flooding. 

Whilst the UK was ranked as the 42nd country most at risk for physical exposure to flooding, high population density and the proximity of commercial centres, private property and infrastructure to areas of flood risk means it is one of the most economically vulnerable countries in the world.

Further reading:

British public’s concern for the environment ‘highest for six years’

Ed Miliband: Climate change is a ‘national security issue’

UK floods: long-term water management requires ‘clear strategy’, say experts

Met Office: evidence says ‘exceptional’ UK weather is linked to climate change

Flooding poses risk to UK economy and could worsen with climate change