By Claire West

The CBI today called for the Government to make its environmental data more easily available to help businesses prepare for the risks of climate change.

Launching a new report: Whatever the weather: managing the risks from a changing climate, the UK’s leading business group said climate change projections should be published in a more accessible format.

It also called for the creation of a new public information bank showing the risk to critical infrastructure. Together these would help firms to plan for rising temperatures and the risks of extreme weather.

Dr Neil Bentley, CBI Director of Business Environment, said:

“Many businesses aren’t ready for the changes that could be ahead. The flooding in 2007 had insurance claims totalling over £3 billion and, as our climate changes, it is estimated that annual flood damages alone could cost as much as £22bn by 2020.

“The impact of climate change needs to be made part of on-going risk management and we must also ensure that what we build today is resilient enough to withstand changes to the climate over the next century.

“The Government must help ensure that businesses have the information needed to take action. Most of this data is already in the public domain, but needs to be made available in an easy-to-use format.”

The CBI said that the UK is fortunate to have a relatively strong understanding of what changes to the UK climate will mean over the next century thanks to the work of the Met Office’s Hadley Centre and the UK Climate Impacts Programme.

Through new reporting powers the Government is also collecting useful information on the risk to company assets and the CBI wants to be sure that we make the best use of these valuable resources.

The report’s key recommendations include:

For the Government:

•The UK Climate Projections (UKCP) should be packaged as a range of more tailored offerings with clearer ‘best available prediction’ models for non-climate-specialists.

•A publicly-accessible information bank detailing the climate risk to critical public infrastructure should be developed, to support businesses in their own climate adaptation planning.

•The Government’s forthcoming national Climate Change Risk Assessment must shape a coherent approach to climate adaptation across regulated sectors, the planning process, and in public infrastructure procurement.

•A consistent approach should be taken across regulatory authorities to support firms to adapt public infrastructure to long-term climate risk.

For businesses:

•Companies should include an evaluation of climate risk in their overall assessment of business risks.

•Climate adaptation strategies should focus on actions that fit within broader sustainability strategies and which deliver savings (in resource use and running costs) in their own right.

•Climate risk evaluation should cover six key areas — supply chains, assets, operations, markets, regulatory compliance and business reputation.

•Climate exposure should be clearly identified and included in corporate reporting.

•Non-commercially sensitive climate adaptation information should be shared by companies to avoid an inconsistent approach between different sectors.