Govt must act on costs, not just prevention

The Government's Climate Change Bill must face up to the consequences of more erratic and dangerous weather, as well as the causes, according to Stephen Haddrill, director general of the Association of British Insurers (ABI).

This summer's floods – which cost the insurance industry more than £3bn – show how serious this problem now is, he said.

Speaking at the Environment Agency's Environmental Futures Conference, Haddrill said: “The Climate Change Bill must be strengthened. Climate change is already here. So we need more action today.

“The government has said it will assess the risks of climate change and regularly report to parliament. That is an excellent first step. But now we should fill in the space where a comprehensive adaptation policy should be.

“Britain will be judged by our ability to manage and pay for the impact of climate change over the next two or three decades. We need a better balance within the Bill. This is not just about reducing the scale of climate change in the second half of this century.

“The consequences of climate change already in the system will be more erratic and violent weather, increased levels of storms, greater likelihood of flash, river and coastal flooding, and more intense heatwaves. Each of these has to be anticipated and managed effectively. We already know, for instance, that sea levels are rising faster than expected. Much of our vital infrastructure and the economy is at risk.

“We are working closely with the government to beef up this section of the Bill. We want to see real leadership from the top on this. Our message is: adapt and survive.”