Environment Agency: Climate emergency hitting ‘worst case scenario’ levels

Chief Executive Sir James Bevan said if left unchecked, climate change will kill more people and do much more harm, than COVID-19

The Big Zero report

The impacts of the climate emergency in the UK are hitting the “worst case scenario” levels with more extreme weather and flooding, the Environment Agency (EA) has warned.

Chief Executive Sir James Bevan is, therefore, calling on the government to take action in tackling the “unseen pandemic” and has set out the increasing challenge the EA and the UK are facing in tackling the extreme weather brought by climate change.

Speaking at the annual conference of the Association of British Insurers, he said the “reasonable worst case scenario” for climate includes much higher sea levels taking out most of the world’s cities, displacing millions and making much of the rest of the land surface uninhabitable or unusable.

He added: “Much more extreme weather will kill more people through drought, flooding, wildfires and heatwaves than most wars have. The net effects will collapse ecosystems, slash crop yields, take out the infrastructure that our civilisation depends on and destroy the basis of the modern economy and modern society.

“If that sounds like science fiction let me tell you something you need to know. This is that over the last few years the Reasonable Worst Case for several of the flood incidents the EA has responded to has actually happened and it’s getting larger.

“That is why our thinking needs to change faster than the climate. And why our response needs to match the scale of the challenge.”

Sir Bevan’s comments come nine months ahead of the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow, where the UK will host delegates and climate experts from around the world, aiming to drive action on adapting to the “inevitable effects” of climate change around the world as well as reducing emissions, protecting and restoring nature and accelerating the green transformation of the financial system.

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