Environment Agency chair calls for Treasury review on issue
Nearly £650bn of public and private infrastructure investment planned by 2030 is at risk unless climate impacts are factored into planning and delivery.
Emma Howard Boyd, chair of the Environment Agency, hit out at “widespread greenwashing”, which she said was compromising efforts to prepare for climate impacts like floods and heatwaves.
Speaking at a forum at the Institute of Civil Engineers, Boyd called for a Treasury-commissioned review to assess the economics of climate resilience, asking that it consider “costs and benefits of resilient investment both nationally and by economic sectors” and the balance appropriate between public and private investment.
“This would help us understand how preparedness for climate shocks supports sustainable economic growth establish an overarching ambition for adaptation investment and a plan to achieve it,” she said.
Boyd, who leaves the agency in September, told the UK Centre for Greening Finance and Investment Annual Forum: “The more businesses are transparent about their plans to transition to net zero and prepare for climate shocks, the easier it is to benchmark best practice, set standards and celebrate the companies that really are delivering on their commitments.
“As with the government’s ambition for net zero by 2050, delivering on climate resilience and nature recovery requires robust, consistent and trusted data.
“If we fail to identify and address greenwashing, we allow ourselves false confidence that we are already addressing the causes and treating the symptoms of the climate crisis.”
Her intervention comes a week after the UK Climate Change Committee’s annual progress report, which stated that “expected changes in the UK climate will lead to risks across all areas of the UK’s economy, society and environment” and that “adaptation action must be undertaken today to prepare for these impacts and is essential alongside (but not in place of) efforts to reach Net Zero”.
The report also slammed government for its lack of investment in retrofitting UK homes.