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New report highlights the risks that international climate change will bring to UK businesses and organizations

Climate change impacts from abroad could affect the UK more than climate change at home according to a report, published by Foresight, the Government’s futures think tank.

The report ‘International Dimensions of Climate Change’ shows that the UK will be vulnerable to adverse impacts from climate change abroad. More attention needs to be given to how climate change effects in other countries may have domestic impacts here.

The report has identified a wide range of risks to the UK from climate change impacts in other parts of the world, which may have implications for:

Financial sector and business
The report argues that the financial sector and business more generally may fail to properly evaluate and take into account changes in the balance of risks associated with climate change overseas. UK firms managed worldwide assets of £1.2 trillion in 2008, and the failure to accurately assess their level of exposure to climate change effects may result in these assets being insufficiently insured or protected. The UK’s financial exposure to overseas climate change impacts may increase if international business and financial policy frameworks do not appropriately account for climate change, and institutions are exposed to additional risks and uncertainties as a result.

Resources and infrastructure
Climate change could affect the overseas resources and infrastructure on which the UK depends. The impacts could arise from global temperature change, water stresses, sea level rise and extreme weather events. A wide range of potential threats are identified including disruption to essential infrastructure serving global markets and energy supplies, as well as the potential impact of extreme weather events on communications networks and data centres.

Foreign policy and security
International instability could increase as a consequence of climate change, either directly through extreme weather events and water system stresses, or indirectly as social and political systems in vulnerable parts of the world come under increasing strain. Also, the UK has a moral, political and legal obligation to support certain regions that are particularly at risk from the effects of climate change, such as small island states which include many of the UK Overseas Territories.

Download the full report at www.bis.gov.uk/foresight

•Date: 13th July 2011 • Region: UK •Type: Article • Topic: Operational risk management

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