PwC report for Defra on international impacts of climate change on UK

As part of the government’s National Adaptation Programme, Pricewaterhouse Coopers has assessed what climate change at home and ‘overseas’ might mean for UK business (trade and investment), infrastructure (particularly energy), food, health/wellbeing, and foreign policy.

The PwC report is based on a Medium emissions scenario, wherein the world sees a 2°C warming, and looks at threats and opportunities in the 2020s, 2050s and 2080s. Looking at the intersection of UK interests, expected climate change impacts and resilience to climate change, they looked for priority countries and issues on the horizon. They also used criteria from the UK’s Climate Change Risk Assessment to measure potential threats and opportunities that climate change may deliver.

The main threats to UK interests identified by the report include extreme weather (damage to physical and financial assets), greater need and frequency of humanitarian assistance in crises, greater variability in prices and availability of food (and energy and other resources), and higher demands on the UK government by its overseas territories or citizens. On the other hand, some opportunities may present themselves:

  • a new/bigger market for adaptation goods and services exported by the UK
  • cheaper shipping routes through the Arctic opening up
  • better international diplomatic cooperation

The report reinforces the interlinked nature of climate change ‘at home’ and ‘abroad’, of domestic and international threats/opportunities, of public and private sector efforts to understand and respond to climate change impacts. It also reinforces the need to reduce emissions, because inaction is simply too costly.