13 September 2010

Britain must adapt to 'inevitable' climate change, warns minister

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As experts call for action now, the coalition withholds green funding and appeals to private enterprise
Britons must radically change the way they live and work to adapt to being "stuck with unavoidable climate change" the Government will caution this week, as it unveils a dramatic vision of how society will be altered by floods, droughts and rising temperatures.

The coalition will signal a major switch towards adapting to the impact of existing climate change, away from Labour's heavy emphasis on cutting carbon emissions to reverse global temperature rises. Caroline Spelman, the Tory Secretary of State for the Environment, will use her first major speech on climate change since taking office to admit that the inevitable severe weather conditions will present a "survival-of-the- fittest scenario", with only those who have planned ahead able to thrive. Adapting to climate change will be "at the heart of our agenda", she is expected to say.

In a series of dramatic artistic impressions, the Government illustrates how hospitals and fire stations should be built on hills to escape floods, skyscrapers designed to reflect the sun's rays and tracts of land allowed to be reclaimed by the sea. At the same time, two major reports that will make the urgent scientific and economic case for action this week.

The Government's stance sets the scene for a political battle with Labour, which insists that tackling a challenge on the scale of climate change requires state intervention and global co-operation, and cannot simply be left to the free market and private business. Critics will also seize on the absence of any new money for Ms Spelman's plans, at a time when her department faces cuts of up to 40 per cent.

She will say: "It is vital that we carry on working to drastically cut our greenhouse gas emissions to stop the problem getting any worse – but we are already stuck with some unavoidable climate change. Because of this, we need to prepare for the best and worst cases which a changing climate will entail for our country."

(The Independent)

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