Climate change is the new health and safety

Telegraph
30.03.2010
By Louise Gray

The body set up to warn Government about the risk of environmental disasters said climate change will cause floods, droughts and heatwaves in future.

In a key report on ‘Adapting Institutions to Climate Change’ the committee of experts recommended that every school, hosptial and business should have a legal duty to adapt to climate change. For example by putting in place flood defences and plans for water shortages.

Sir John Lawton, Chairman of the Royal Commission, said global warming is a real risk and could cause huge problems for Britain.

He said all businesses and public bodies should have to carry out a “climate change adaptation test” in the same way as they currently conduct health and safety checks.

“The planet is already slightly above the worse case scenario so if we do nothing we could be looking at a temperature rise of 4C (7.3F) by 2100,” he said.

“Any society confronted with those kind of dramatic changes to their climate would be very wise to take due attention to the risk that poses to society, infrastructure and people’s lives and begin to plan accordingly. That should become central because just like health and safety scenarios - where people are going to get killed or injured - people are going to get killed or injured by climate change and that is why it is important.”

But Sir John said that adapting to climate change will not cost organisations extra money or add bureaucracy.

Instead he insisted that it could be done by simply ensuring that things are done differently.

“We have to accept that there is a real risk of [climate change] devastating people’s lives so it is a sensible thing to think about, rather than another layer of bureaucracy for bureaucracy’s state,” he said.

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