Businesses with no climate change plan risk 'failure'
Businesses, particularly smaller companies, buildings and infrastructure such as transport networks, hospitals and water supplies are all ill-prepared for the extreme weather events related to climate change says a report released today.
The progress report from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) Adaptation Sub-committee finds that the resilience of UK business, buildings and infrastructure needs to be enhanced to counter more severe flooding and heatwaves in the future.
Among its top line recommendations, the committee is calling for the introduction of new regulations to avoid surface water flooding caused by new development and a new building standard incorporating cooling measures to prevent buildings overheating. The report also praises the 'comprehensive approach' that has already been put in place by the energy sector and recommends that a similar plan be instituted by water companies and telecommunications providers as well as for major roads and airports.
The report put things in stark terms: "Businesses that fail to anticipate climate change risk their own failure." Therefore, it makes a number of recommendations, particularly for smaller businesses that may not have taken adequate steps to assess, manage and mitigate the risk to their operations during extreme weather events. These businesses should:
- Check insurance arrangements and cover for severe weather
- Prepare business continuity plans
- Work with UK and overseas suppliers to assess impacts on supply chains
- Businesses in flood risk areas should sign up to the Environment Agency's flood warning service
- At risk businesses should consider, where possible, moving stock and vulnerable/business critical/valuable equipment out of harm's way.
Holding back the flood
Specific measures from both central and local government will also be needed in order to mitigate the effect of flood events going forward, says the report. These include implementing recommendations of the Pitt Review from six years ago. The report says:
- Regulations to avoid surface water flooding caused by new development should be introduced
- Local councils must do more to manage local flood risk
- Local flood risk management plans and strategies should be published and agreed actions taken
- Rules governing the loss of gardens to hard standing should be enforced
The negative effects of budget cuts were also underlined by the report as was a knowledge gap regarding national response capability. Institute of Civil Engineers flood expert and vice president Professor David Balmforth, agreed, calling for a clear investment programme from government: "The committee rightly highlights the growing need for a more comprehensive approach to UK flood resilience, particularly one that better reflects interdependencies - or the 'domino effect' that can be felt across energy, transport, water and waste networks when a flood defence is overwhelmed.
"If we are to meet the pressures of climate change, capital and maintenance investment will simply need to increase. Government should commit to a long terms capital and maintenance programme for flood management which protects funding beyond the current six-year cycle."
This report, the third in a series from the committee, can be downloaded in full here.