England. Report: Government is not prepared for extreme weather events

In this document The government has been called upon to address the country’s major security threats resulting from the impact of climate change on critical national infrastructure, including energy, transport, water and communications. It lists “overwhelming evidence”. Climate change is already impacting Britain’s infrastructure and “no minister is taking responsibility” for adapting to these changes.

Report of the Joint National Security Strategy Committee consisting of members of the House of Commons and the House of LordsThe result is a series of extreme weather events in recent years. This was Cyclone Arwen in November 2021, after which almost a million people in the north-east of England and Scotland were left without power due to downed power lines; the failure of drainage systems that nearly flooded the National Blood Bank in Bristol; Heavy rain in August 2020 caused a train derailment in Scotland, killing three people and July this year was hot, with temperatures rising above 40 degrees for the first time.

There are tons of examples of the drastic impact climate change has already had on our critical national infrastructure. There will be more in the future – almost certainly more intense. But what worries me most is the lack of evidence that anyone in government is paying attention to how all the consequences can create cascading crises. Labor MP Margaret Beckett, chair of the committee, said none of the ministers had a responsibility to ensure our infrastructure was resilient to extreme weather and other effects of climate change.

According to the report, high temperatures are likely to cause power cables to sag and roads to soften, and experts predict that floods will be more severe, causing railway embankments to fail more often.

The Commission made three major recommendations: Appointment of a separate Deputy Minister for National Critical Infrastructure who will work closely with the Deputy Minister for Climate Change; establishing a statutory forum between regulators overseeing critical national infrastructure, such as Ofwat for water and Ofgem for energy; Introducing a regional exercise program to ensure that local responders to emergencies such as emergency services can prepare and respond effectively to extreme weather events.

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