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Call for climate change task force

15 July 2016

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Great British weather: storm clouds hover over St Mary’s lighthouse at Whitley Bay, in Tyne and Wear, earlier this month

Great British weather: storm clouds hover over St Mary’s lighthouse at Whitley Bay, in Tyne and Wear, earlier this month

CLIMATE change is a “national security threat” so complex and urgent that the new Prime Minister, Theresa May, should chair a cross-Government task force, Christian Aid has warned in the wake of a new report on the risks of global warming.

The Christian charity has called for a Climate COBRA Committee after the Climate Change Committee (CCC) published a report on Tuesday suggesting that the UK is facing a dramatic increase in flooding, and temperatures, resulting in water shortages, the spread of disease, and severe disruption to international food-production and trade.

The CCC’s UK Climate Change Risk Assessment 2017Synthesis report: Priorities for the next five years sets out the “greatest direct climate-change-related threats” for the UK, and the potential impacts and solutions.

It warns that more action is needed to address flooding, coastal changes, high temperatures, and heatwaves, and shortages in water that could put at risk communities, businesses, and infrastructure; health, well-being and productivity; and agriculture, energy generation, and industry; and could have a severe impact on natural capital, including terrestrial, coastal, marine, and freshwater ecosystems, soils, and biodiversity.

“The global increase in temperature of 0.85°C since 1880 is mirrored in the UK climate, with higher average temperatures and some evidence of more extreme weather events,” the report warns. “Heatwaves in the UK like that experienced in 2003 are expected to become the norm in summer by the 2040s.”

It suggests that, although Brexit does not change the overall findings of the assessment, “the magnitude of individual climate-change risks and opportunities could be affected if legislation, policy, and funding derived from the EU, relevant to climate-change adaptation, are changed.”

The senior UK political adviser at Christian Aid, Tom Viita, said that the country was “not insulated from global shocks”, and that the CCC’s analysis was a stark and urgent warning.

“Climate change is a major threat to national security, but there is no conventional security response to climate change,” he said on Tuesday. “The new Prime Minister must chair a Climate Cobra Committee to handle these risks more effectively, and with the urgency required.”

The Government is due to consider the findings of the CCC report, and present a formal assessment to Parliament, in early 2017, which is expected to lead to a second UK National Adaptation Programme in 2018.

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