Govt warning: Prepare yourself for the effects of climate change

by Peter Wozniak

People need to begin preparing for the effects of climate change now, the environment secretary has warned.

A report by the adaptation sub-committee argued that the effects of climate change are already visible in the UK, and will grow in scale and severity over time.

The report concluded that the government needed to do more to make people aware of the impacts of climate change, and encourage the population to prepare for them adequately.

Caroline Spelman called the report a “wake-up call” for Britain.

“There is no part of our society which is immune from the effects of climate change. Which means that every part of our society must think about its resilience,” she will argue at a speech later today.

The UK will endure wetter winters, warmer summers and more extreme weather events, including flooding, in the years to come, the report said.

Ms Spelman will declare that the coalition is already making significant steps to cut carbon emissions and improve flood defences, but will also stress that adapting to climate change will be partly the responsibility of the local and community level.

“Government cannot do it alone. We need to shift control for action away from the state while ensuring government maintains its role in providing world class evidence and co-ordinating the actions of the many players involved in adaptation on the ground,” she will say.

The speech follows a theme of the coalition government, devolving power away from the state and central government.

But it also comes amidst the height of controversy surrounding the comprehensive spending review, which currently overshadows the plans of all government departments, including Ms Spelman’s Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

The government has previously been at pains to emphasise its green credentials, though environmental issues have recently taken a backseat in the wake of the country’s economic woes.