Failing to tackle the climate emergency could cost the UK more than £12 billion every year by 2050 as a result of coastal damages alone.
That’s the warning from the WWF, which highlights that this figure is equivalent to around 0.8% of GDP and more than the government collectively spends on the police, fire service and law courts annually, which are expected to see around £11.4 billion of funding in 2019.
The new report urges the leaders of all the UK’s political parties to prioritise urgent action on the environment ahead of the upcoming general election – it says if this is not carried out, many of the benefits offered by nature such as food and water supply, crop pollination, protection against flooding and erosion and carbon sinks will be damaged or destroyed.
This would be likely to cause price hikes for wheat, livestock, maize and other commodities, driving up costs for consumers.
It reveals the UK has already lost up to 92% of its seagrass in the last century and 85% of its saltmarshes, both of which are vital in protecting against damage from rising waters.
The WWF emphasises protecting and restoring natural coastal defences is vital and forecasts if action is not taken, almost 2.5 million homes in the UK will be at risk of flooding by 2050.
It calls for politicians to commit to green policies and investment, halt the UK’s contribution to climate change, put nature on a path to recovery, stop deforestation in food supply chains and “pioneer an economic and financial system that works for people and planet”.
Mike Barrett, Executive Director of Science and Conservation at WWF, said: “At this critical time for our planet, we can vote for our world.
“All UK political parties must make urgent commitments to invest in the restoration of nature. We need to stop deforestation in our food supply chains, end our contribution to climate change and put nature on the path to recovery – and that includes protecting and restoring our natural coastal defences.”