UK Risks Bankruptcy In A Century Unless We Act On Climate Change, Report Says

A new study suggests dealing with natural disasters will drain the national bank account.
A row of four cottages which had their roofs ripped off during storm Ciaran, on November 2, 2023 in St Martin, Jersey.
A row of four cottages which had their roofs ripped off during storm Ciaran, on November 2, 2023 in St Martin, Jersey.
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The UK could go bankrupt in approximately 100 years because of the growing cost attached to the worsening climate disasters, a new report claims.

KISTERS, an environmental monitoring and data management firm, looked at data from the International Disaster Database and compared the growth in GDP per country with the cost of dealing with the climate crisis.

KISTERS’ senior meteorologist Johan Jacques, said the results for the UK were “deeply concerning but not entirely unexpected”.

Natural disasters have become increasingly common since we first started pumping fossil fuels into the atmosphere en masse during the industrial era.

Since 1900, there have been 12,449 natural disasters around the globe – that works out to a 57% growth in the extreme weather incidents each decade since the turn of the 20th century.

It’s not surprising that the cost of then dealing with these worsening disasters has doubled every decade.

In fact, these extreme weather events are said to have cost the global economy more than £4.1 trillion due to damages, according to KISTERS.

This is a major sticking point for the UN’s ongoing climate summit, COP28.

Developed countries are currently debating just how much money to put towards the loss and damages fund for developing nations which are more vulnerable to climate change.

The UK is a developed nation, which leads many to assume it has plenty in the coffers to deal with its own climate problems.

And UK GDP does currently stand at £2.4 trillion, having grown by 4.3% in 2022 (according to the latest revised data from the Office for National Statistics).

But, between 1990 and 2019, it has cost almost £1.1 billion per year for the UK to adapt to the climate crisis, according to KISTERS.

Floods are a particular problem for the UK, with the problems stemming from overflows increasing by a whopping 425% every decade since the 1990s.

In the next decade, flooding alone is forecast to cost the UK £33.9 billion.

UK growth is therefore en route to be outpaced by the cost of the climate crisis in the next century, according to the researchers.

They concluded: “The effective compounding of natural disaster damage means their costs will overtake UK GDP in approximately 110 years, or 2134, as our projections estimate.”

Jacques added: “Understanding that climate change is not just an environmental issue is crucial. It’s also an economic one.”

It is worth noting that this study is based on the UK’s current projections for growth, and so these numbers will be susceptible to change – meaning we can still change course.

This can be resolved only through investing in adaptation, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and enhancing infrastructure, the report explained.

“Such investments may seem substantial now but they are insignificant compared to the potential costs of inaction,” Jacques said.

The report comes a few months after prime minister Rishi Sunak rolled back key green targets to establish a “pragmatic, proportionate and realistic” approach to net zero by 2050.

The researchers also examined other countries around the world. It predicted the cost of dealing with climate crises would surpass US GDP altogether by 2094, while Germany has until 2630.


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