LONDON – Adapt or die.
This is the stern warning the UK environment agency issued on Wednesday as it urged the country to change in order to deal with flooding, droughts and other extreme weather events brought on by the climate change.
The message comes after summer flooding, which scientists say has been made more likely by climate change, killed 200 people in Western Europe, and ahead of an international environmental conference in Glasgow, Scotland.
“It’s adapt or die,” agency president Emma Howard Boyd said in a statement. “While mitigation can save the planet, it is adaptation, preparedness for climate shocks, that will save millions of lives.”
Making the places where people live, work and travel resilient to the effects of extreme weather conditions can minimize the death and destruction that the climate crisis is already causing, the agency said. It is also much cheaper to invest early in climate resilience than to deal with the consequences of climate change when it is too late, he added.
The report warns of increasing flooding and drought, rising sea levels and greater demand for water due to global warming.
He noted that sea level in London is expected to rise dramatically – up to 9 inches in the 2050s and nearly 18 inches in the 2080s.
England could face the kind of flooding that killed 200 people in Western Europe this summer when rivers in Germany and Belgium overflowed from their banks after heavy rains, Howard Boyd has warned.
A recent study by the World Weather Attribution initiative, an international group of scientists who analyze extreme weather events around the world, found that climate change makes such fatal events up to 9 times more likely.
“It will happen sooner or later in this country, no matter how high our flood defenses, unless we also make the places where we live, work and travel resilient to the effects of weather conditions more severe than the emergency. climate brings, ”Howard Boyd mentioned.
The agency said new flood and coastal defense systems were essential to adapt to climate change. He also called for projects to restore natural ecosystems that trap rainwater and absorb carbon at the same time. In addition, he said water companies will need to plan for water shortages and more needs to be done to attract private finance to invest in flood defense projects.
Sam Fankhauser, professor of climate change economics and policy at the University of Oxford, said the agency was right to issue the stern warnings.
“Heat waves and floods kill, and they are sources of immense trauma and destruction,” he said.
“They don’t have to be, if we prepare well, so the agency is absolutely right to stress the importance of adapting to increased climate risks,” he said. “Adaptation receives less attention than reducing emissions, but these are really two sides of the same coin. “
The Environment Agency report comes just weeks before the UK is hosting the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, widely seen as crucial if climate change is to be brought under control, or to help communities s he adaptation to climate change is one of the four objectives defined by the summit. officials.
Adaptation actions on the COP26 agenda include more funding to improve early warning systems and flood defenses around the world, and measures to protect and restore habitats to provide defenses against storms and floods.
The UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs told NBC News in an email in response to the Environment Agency’s report that it was taking “vigorous steps” to improve the resilience to climate change across the country.
In August, the United Nations warned that climate change was changing the Earth in ways “unprecedented” for thousands of years – and in some cases, hundreds of thousands of years. For the first time, he provided a more detailed regional assessment of climate change, with a focus on risk assessment and adaptation.