LONDON — The British Environment Agency on Wednesday urged world leaders to take decisive action to combat climate change, issuing a stark warning before a U.N. summit in Glasgow this month when some 20,000 delegates from nearly every country will discuss ways to tackle potentially disastrous global warming.
“It is adapt or die,” Emma Howard Boyd, chairwoman of the government agency, said in a report to the British government.
Deadly floods like those in Germany this summer will happen in Britain sooner or later, no matter how high the country’s flood defenses are built, she cautioned, urging adaptations to homes and workplaces to make them more resilient to the effects of the increasingly violent weather brought on by the climate emergency.
“While mitigation might save the planet, it is adaptation, preparing for climate shocks, that will save millions of lives,” she said.
Even if countries manage to meet the target of limiting the average temperature rise to two degrees Celsius compared with preindustrial levels — the goal set in the 2015 Paris Agreement — the report said that winter rainfall was still expected to increase by 6 percent and summer rainfall to decrease by 15 percent in the 2050s compared with the last two decades of the previous millennium.
In Britain, about four million people and some 200 billion pounds, or $272 billion, of assets are at risk of flooding from rising levels in rivers and seas if no action is taken, the report warned.
The agency said it was working with the government, businesses and communities to shore up flood and coastal defenses over the next six years.