Consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) has conducted research for Defra, which suggests that the international threats and opportunities of climate change to the UK could be an ‘order of magnitude’ larger than domestic threats and opportunities for some thematic areas, in particular business (trade and investment) and food (supply chains).

The report also warns that threats significantly outweigh opportunities. Increases in humanitarian assistance and volatility in food prices, alongside increased demand for UK Government services by overseas territories and citizens abroad, are impacts the UK could potentially experience due to global climate change.

It also suggests that damages to physical and financial assets abroad will become more frequent due to economic damages from extreme weather.

However, opportunities are still apparent, including an increased potential to export UK adaptation goods and services, reduced shipping costs from the Arctic opening and greater international diplomatic cooperation.

PwC states that an immediate opportunity exists to strengthen the forthcoming UK Government National Adaptation Programme (NAP) and to develop policy responses to global climate change accordingly.

It also recommends the need for more strategic planning by both the public and private sectors in order to manage the threats of international climate change to the UK and to better prepare to take advantage of the opportunities.

The report stresses that the global cost of mitigation is “less than the cost of inaction”.

“Without sustained and urgent efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, individuals, businesses and governments all over the world are likely to have to bear far greater costs arising from the impacts of climate change, both directly (domestically) and indirectly through linkages internationally,” the report says.

Leigh Stringer

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