Environment Agency Chair Emma Howard Boyd Urges 2022 to Be the Defining Year of Climate Adaptation for a Resilient Future

Posted on 25 January 2022

Environment Agency chair Emma Howard Boyd delivered a compelling message, stressing the urgent need for 2022 to be dedicated to climate adaptation and the development of climate-resilient infrastructure. Speaking at the esteemed Coastal Futures conference, Howard Boyd eloquently underscored the significance of comprehensively assessing the true cost of climate impacts and the invaluable nature of investing in resilience. She expressed deep concerns over the prevailing lack of public awareness regarding flooding, emphasising that this lack of knowledge has the potential to exacerbate future risks. Drawing upon the momentum generated by the climate focus of COP26, Howard Boyd passionately advocated for an ongoing commitment to adaptation. Furthermore, she directed attention to the remarkable strides made in flood protection over the course of the last seven decades since the devastating 1953 floods in East Anglia, highlighting the invaluable industry knowledge gained during this period.

Howard Boyd's poignant remarks were accentuated by her reference to the vital artificial protection afforded by barriers such as the Boston, Hull, and Thames barriers during the historic COP26 summit. Acknowledging their essential role, she stressed the absolute necessity of raising public awareness about these protective measures and their crucial contribution to safeguarding communities. To emphasise her point, she cited the tragic floods in Germany, where a staggering 200 lives were lost due to a lack of understanding of how to respond to flood warnings. Alarming statistics further revealed that a substantial 61% of individuals living in flood-risk areas in England remain unaware of the imminent dangers they face. Against the backdrop of these concerning figures, Howard Boyd illuminated the potential impact of extreme weather events such as Storm Arwen and reiterated the criticality of proactive measures. In no uncertain terms, she declared that climate change is not only amplifying weather-related risks but also intensifying their severity, frequency, and duration.

Coinciding with the timely delivery of the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment 2022 to parliament, Howard Boyd's remarks harmonized with the resounding message of the report. This influential document steadfastly advocates for the integration of climate change considerations into long-term =decision-making processes, particularly concerning crucial areas such as = housing and infrastructure.

The report further emphasises the importance of avoiding =future costly remedial actions through proactive climate adaptation measures. Aligned with these objectives, Howard Boyd echoed the sentiment, fervently calling for a comprehensive review akin to the Treasury-commissioned examination on the economics of biodiversity. This proposed assessment aims to accurately evaluate the true cost of climate impacts while comprehensively appraising the value and efficacy of investing in resilience. Underscoring the immense potential for positive change, she highlighted the instrumental role played by the Coalition for Climate Resilient Investment (CCRI), an esteemed body she co-chairs. With an impressive membership consisting of governments and investors overseeing assets worth over US$20 trillion, the CCRI offers a promising avenue to incentivize a transformative shift towards enhanced climate resilience by integrating climate risks into upfront financial decision-making processes.

In her powerful concluding statements, Howard Boyd left no room for doubt. She firmly asserted that the pivotal year of 2022 must be unequivocally designated as the year of climate adaptation, a clarion call for action. The success of the UK's COP26 presidency, as well as the ambitious pursuit of the Green Industrial Revolution, hinges on a steadfast commitment to adaptation measures that fortify societies and mitigate the grave impacts of climate change. With resolute determination, Howard Boyd's impassioned plea resonates as a clarion call for collective action, galvanising individuals, communities, industries, and governments to embrace the challenge of climate adaptation and forge a sustainable and resilient future.

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