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UK Climate risk Assessment 2017

2nd Feb 2017

Yes, I know that this is top of everyone's reading list, and as such, you can therefore stop reading this blog immediately! But for those of you who didn't know that this had recently come out (and that would be most of us as there was very little announcement made of it) I have summarised the main points below.

"Climate change is not only a challenge of the future. We are already observing changes in the UK climate, with average temperatures having risen by around 1ºC over the last century. We are seeing a trend towards warmer winters and hotter summers, sea levels around our coast are rising by around 3mm a year and there is emerging evidence of changing rainfall patterns" (from the report).  

The Climate Change Act requires the government every 5 years to complile an assessment of the risks for the UK arising from climate change, and then to develop an adaptation programme to address the risks and deliver resilience to climate change on the ground. This report that has recently been released, and is available in full here, sets out the 6 urgent priorities for activities across the next 5 years.

These six priorities are:

What is the focus for agriculture?

Well by looking at the table above, its pretty clear to see which bits of it impact on agriculture in one way or another (pretty much all of them).

On food security...

"The UK Climate Change Risk Assessment 2017 Evidence Report sets out how extreme weather can affect international food production, trade and supply chains. Longer-term incremental changes in climate will affect agricultural productivity in regions that are important for food production. At the same time, climate change will present risks and opportunities for domestic production, with the resilience of UK food systems dependent on the stewardship of natural resources including soils and responses to international markets. The Evidence Report concludes that there is a need for policy intervention over the next five years to manage the potential impacts of these risks on food prices in the UK."

On emerging pests and diseases...

The UK Climate Change Risk Assessment 2017 Evidence Report describes how new and emerging pests and diseases – including invasive non-native species – have the potential to cause severe impacts on people, animals and plants. It concludes that there is an urgent need for research in the next five years to improve our understanding of how climate change will affect the threat of pests and diseases and the best approaches to monitor, detect and manage outbreaks and develop resilience to disease (eg through developing new crop varieties and breeding techniques). It finds that the evidence is not yet clear as to what extent surveillance is effective in identifying risks, or whether resources are prioritised towards those vectors and pathogens that pose the biggest challenge in the changing climate. Research is also needed to improve the evidence about the impact of endemic diseases in a changing environment.

To read the report in full, please click here.