Is climate change the cause of extreme weather events? Until now the link has been suspected but never confirmed with scientific confidence. That position is now changing. A new study from the US confirms that for some extreme events there is a causal connection. As this linkage becomes more obvious the public demand for action will grow more intense a nd that in turn will raise a serious political problem. Even politicians who fully accept the risks of climate change cannot change the weather because heatwaves and other current extreme weather conditions are being caused by the change that has already occurred. Cutting carbon emissions to zero immediately – even if that were practical – would not alter the situation although it could, of course, prevent further deterioration. Equally, countries cannot not isolate themselves. The weather does not recognise political boundaries. In such circumstances the only viable response is adaptation and the development of provision to cope with the increased risks. The approach is sensible but it can be expensive. Taking precautions against the risks of a heatwave is not a simple process. In politics, if a risk cannot easily be removed or managed the temptation is to look for someone to blame. In legal terms this will be translated into the concept of liabilities. If you are a sh areholder in an energy business you might like to ask your company’s view of the issue. It would be fascinating to read their responses.
FT 28th March 2016 read more »