London, 19 July: The Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF) has called on the UK government to learn the key lesson from the German flood disaster and adopt policies that prioritise effective and relative low cost flood protection over massively expensive and ineffective renewable energy targets.
In recent days, meteorologists and extreme weather researchers have blamed a ‘monumental failure of Germany’s flood warning system’ for the death and devastation triggered by disastrous flooding.
Experts had warned the German government four days before the first floods about the high risk of flooding in the Rhine basin, but the government failed to implement flood protection measures that are, in any case historically underfunded and thus ineffective.
Despite previous flood disasters in recent decades, Germany’s priority in dealing with climate change has been to spend hundreds of billions of euros on wind and solar projects, failing almost completely to prepare communities for extreme weather events that are inevitable regardless of climate change.
In view of the habitual failure of UK governments to prevent and alleviate significant flooding events in the past, the Global Warming Policy Forum is calling for No. 10 to learn from Germany’s sad example and implement a radical rebalancing of adaptation and mitigation in the UK’s climate policies.
Since 2002 the UK has been spending increasingly large sums on climate change mitigation, mostly through subsidies to renewables. Between 2017 and today the UK has spent nearly £30 billion in in income support subsidies to renewable energy investors.
The OBR estimates that in the next four years alone (2021 to 2025) the UK will spend nearly £50 billion on these subsidies to renewables investors.
A fraction of these astronomical handouts could deliver greatly improved flood prevention, defences and disaster recovery systems. Comparable spending would help to make the UK extremely resilient in the face of natural disasters.
The German and UK governments obviously have the balance of adaptation and mitigation very badly wrong.
As a direct result of costly and ineffective climate policies both countries have underinvested in protection and adaptation measures. These measures are very effective and “no regrets” policies because they yield dividends immediately and protect citizens against flooding and other natural disasters whether they are related to climate change or not.
Dr Benny Peiser, the GWPF’s director, said:
"The German government’s astronomically costly low carbon policies have delivered no benefit to those communities affected by flooding. The UK has yet to see a disaster on the German scale but the underlying problem is identical.
"Even if the UK were ever to achieve its Net Zero emissions target, towns and communities would still have to deal with flooding and other extreme weather events that won’t disappear just because the Government throws hundreds of billions at wind and solar energy.
"The next time communities and towns are devastated by a flood disaster, no minister or party leader should get away with the lame excuse that climate change is to blame. The truth is that even in regions where more flooding is happening, in affluent societies flood disasters are increasingly the result of failed and underfunded protection measures.
"It is time for the government to redirect resources towards adaptation measures that will help to prevent or minimise much of the misery and economic harm caused by flooding."
Dr Benny Peiser
Director, Global Warming Policy Forum
m: 07553 361717