LONDON – Adapt or Die.
This is the sharp warning from the UK Environment Agency, issued on Wednesday when it urged the country to change to cope with floods, droughts and other extreme weather events caused by climate change.
The news comes after summer floods that scientists said were made more likely by climate change, which killed 200 people in Western Europe, and one before most important international environmental conference in Glasgow, Scotland.
“It’s about adapting or dying,” said agency chair Emma Howard Boyd in a statement. “While weakening could save the planet, it is adaptation, preparation for climate shocks that will save millions of lives.”
Making 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 wreaking, the agency said. It is also much cheaper to invest in climate resilience early on than to deal with the consequences of climate change when it is too late, she added.
the report warned of increased floods and droughts, rising sea levels and increased water demand as a result of global warming.
It stated that London’s sea level was expected to rise dramatically – by as much as 9 inches in the 2050s and nearly 18 inches in the 2080s.
England could face the type of flooding that killed 200 people in Western Europe this summer when rivers in Germany and Belgium overflowed after heavy rains, Howard Boyd warned.
A recent study by the World Weather Attribution Initiative, an international group of scientists that analyzes extreme weather events around the world, found that climate change makes such deadly events up to 9 times more likely.
“That will happen sooner or later in this country, no matter how high we build our flood protection, unless we make the places we live, work and travel more resilient to the effects of the more severe weather that the climate emergency brings with it brings “said Howard called Boyd.
The agency said new flood and coastal protection systems were vital to adapt to the changing climate. She also called for projects to restore natural ecosystems that hold back rainwater while absorbing carbon. In addition, water companies need to plan for water scarcity and more needs to be done to attract private money to invest in flood protection projects.
Sam Fankhauser, professor of climate change economics and policy at Oxford University, said the agency was right to issue the grave warnings.
“Heat waves and floods are really killing 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. “Adjustment gets less attention than reducing emissions, but they are really two sides of the same coin. “
The environmental agency’s report comes just weeks before the planned COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow, which is widely viewed as critical in bringing climate change under control and helping communities adapt to climate change one of four goals described by summit officials.
The adaptation measures on the COP26 agenda include more funds to improve early warning systems and flood protection around the world, as well as measures to protect and restore habitats to provide natural storm and flood protection.
The UK’s Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs told NBC News in an email in response to the Environment Agency’s report that it is taking “robust measures” to improve resilience to climate change across the country.
In August, the United Nations warned that climate change is changing the earth in ways that have been “unprecedented” for thousands of years – and in some cases hundreds of thousands of years. For the first time, it provided a more detailed regional assessment of climate change, including an emphasis on risk assessment and adaptation.