Monday, August 03, 2020

Climate Change: The risk assessment

In addition to establishing a process for setting emissions reductions plans, the Zero Carbon Act established a process for managing the risks of climate change. The first part of this is the preparation of regular risk assessments, looking at the risks to our economy, society, environment, and ecology. The first of these was released today, and it paints a pretty dire picture. We're looking at extreme risks to our drinking water supplies, to buildings near the coast, and to government finances from paying the repeated ongoing costs of disaster relief and social dislocation. We're also looking at significant risks to social cohesion and of increasing existing inequalities due to who will be impacted and who will pay. Plus, there's serious risks of maladaptation, of responding badly by failing to plan for worst cases or for the longer term. And we need to start doing something about these risks in the immediate future.

The next stage of this process will be to produce an adaptation plan, on how to address those risks. And there will be progress reporting against it, so governments will not be able to stick their fingers in their ears and pretend everything is fine. But pretty obviously, the best way of managing these risks is to reduce our emissions and decarbonise our society, and to work to make that a global policy. And equally obviously, our current policy settings are nowhere near doing that. So, if our government is to pass the laugh test, it needs to significantly strengthen our climate change policies and start decarbonisation. Otherwise it is literally just sitting there waiting for the flood and letting it happen.

You can read the full risk assessment here.