Report on UK climate change preparedness “damning and worrying” says Sheffield Council executive member

A Sheffield Council executive member said a recent report on the country’s climate risk was “damning and worrying”.

By Molly Williams, Local Democracy Reporter
Wednesday, 16th June 2021, 1:44 pm
Updated Wednesday, 16th June 2021, 1:58 pm

Councillor Douglas Johnson executive member for climate change, environment and transport, gave his views on the findings of a comprehensive independent assessment by the Climate Change Committee that considered a catalogue of risks and opportunities affecting every aspect of life in the UK.

The report, published this week, concluded that action to improve the nation’s resilience is failing to keep pace with the impacts of a warming planet and increasing climate risks facing the UK.

Councillor Johnson said: “The Climate Change Committee’s report is a damning and worrying indication of the lack of preparedness by the government at the highest level to have an effective plan for flooding, heatwaves and the impact on health and care services for the business economy.”

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Councillor Douglas Johnson.

Since the CCC’s last assessment five years ago, over 570,000 new homes were built that are not resilient to future high temperatures and since 2018, more than 4,000 heat-related deaths have been recorded in England.

It said people, nature, and infrastructure are already vulnerable to a range of climate impacts today and these will only increase in the coming years as the climate continues to change. The longer action to address these risks is delayed, the higher the costs the Government and the UK public will face.

UK-wide, nearly 60 per cent of the risks and opportunities assessed in the 1500-page report were given the highest urgency score. The CCC identified eight priority risk areas which need immediate attention in the next two years at the latest.

These are:

Risks to the viability and diversity of terrestrial and freshwater habitats and species from multiple hazards Risks to soil health from increased flooding and drought Risks to natural carbon stores and sequestration from multiple hazards, leading to increased emissions Risks to crops, livestock and commercial trees from multiple climate hazards Risks to supply of food, goods and vital services due to climate-related collapse of supply chains and distribution networks Risks to people and the economy from climate-related failure of the power system Risks to human health, wellbeing and productivity from increased exposure to heat in homes and other buildings Multiple risks to the UK from climate change impacts overseas

Coun Johnson said: “The good news is that a lot of that can be done with existing measures that we just need more of.

“For instance, housebuilders could create better quality, safer homes by fitting window shutters to reduce heating effects in apartment blocks.

“The real winner is planting more greenery, which really helps to avoid heat stores in large expanse of concrete and restoring peat bogs is a vitally important way of protecting ourselves against flooding.

“There is much more than can be done on Sheffield’s moors to help help reduce flood risk. A recent initiative we brought to council was to agree to open up discussions with the large private landowners of those areas and this is something I hope to follow up with.”