Saturday, May 25, 2013

UK's climate change adaptation team cut from 38 officials to just six

Fiona Harvey in the Guardian (UK): The number of people employed by the government to work on the UK's response to the effects of climate change has been cut from 38 officials to just six, triggering accusations that David Cameron's promise to be the greenest government has been abandoned.

The UK is facing a multi-billion pound bill over the next few years for the costs of adapting to the effects of climate change – including flooding, much fiercer storms, droughts, heatwaves and more extreme weather. The government's advisers, the Committee on Climate Change, have warned that the measures needed to prepare the UK's infrastructure will include defences for power stations, transport and communication networks, changes to how buildings are constructed, and new ways of trying to prevent flooding, such as an upgrade to the Thames Barrier.

But the number of officials charged with dealing with the issue within the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has been dramatically reduced. A freedom of information response to a question by Friends of the Earth confirmed the reduction from 38 to six posts.

Defra insisted that the changes were the result of a restructuring. A spokesman said: "How we adapt to any impacts of climate change has been embedded into every policy team in Defra. Staff numbers on the adaptation team will therefore be reduced and the expertise moved to other parts of the department. A larger team will then come together to deliver the next climate change risk assessment in 2017."

But the staff reduction was condemned by one of the former most senior Whitehall officials on climate change. John Ashton was charged with leading the UK's diplomatic efforts to forge a new international agreement on cutting greenhouse gas emissions at the United Nations...

No comments: