Exclusive: The five-yearly assessment of what will happen to the UK as the world warms says one of an array of potential threats is the ‘significant risk’ to supplies of food
The Government has been accused of trying to bury a major report about the potential dangers of global warming to Britain – including the doubling of the deaths during heatwaves, a “significant risk” to supplies of food and the prospect of infrastructure damage from flooding.
The UK Climate Change Risk Assessment Report, which by law has to be produced every five years, was published with little fanfare on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra) website on 18 January.
But, despite its undoubted importance, Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom made no speech and did not issue her own statement, and even the Defra Twitter account was silent. No mainstream media organisation covered the report.
One leading climate expert accused the Government of “trying to sneak it out” without people noticing, saying he was “astonished” at the way its publication was handled.
In the report, the Government admitted there were a number of “urgent priorities” that needed to be addressed.
It said it largely agreed with experts’ warnings about the effects of climate change on the UK.
These included two “high-risk” issues: the damage expected to be caused by flooding and coastal erosion; and the effect of rising temperatures on people’s health.
The report concluded that the number of heat-related deaths in the UK “could more than double by the 2050s from a current baseline of around 2,000 per year”.
It said “urgent action” should be taken to address overheating in homes, public buildings and cities generally, and called for further research into the effect on workers’ productivity.
The Government also recognised that climate change “will present significant risks to the availability and supply of food in the UK”, the report said, partly because of extreme weather in some of the world’s main food-growing regions.
The report also said the public water supply could be affected by shortages and that the natural environment could be degraded.
Read more: Independent