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UK Climate Projections 2018, Action Oak Photographer of the Year and Defra's response to EFRA Committee report on Agriculture Bill

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UK Climate Projections 2018

An image of a sunset in a coastal area with an orange sky.

There has been widespread coverage this morning following the launch of our UK Climate Projections 2018 – the most detailed picture yet of how our climate will change over the next century.

UKCP18 is the first major update of climate projections in nearly 10 years, using the UK’s world-leading science and research to illustrate a range of scenarios up to 2100 – showing we can expect warmer summers, wetter winters, rising sea levels and more extreme weather in the future.

The Guardian focuses on the increased likelihood of flooding in the future, reporting that people may have to move from high risk areas as climate change could make the impacts of floods more severe. The article carries comments from the Environment Secretary Michael Gove’s speech yesterday at the Science Museum, where he noted the £2.6 billion Defra is spending on flood defences up to 2021, and said next year we will publish a new 50-year flood strategy to help coastal communities and infrastructure be better prepared for flooding in the future.

Elsewhere, the Times, Daily Mail, Sun, Independent and Express all focus on the projected rise in summer temperatures, with the data showing that summer temperatures could be up to 5.4 degrees hotter by 2070, while a summer as hot as 2018 could become the norm by 2050.

Media also widely report on portions of the Environment Secretary’s speech, where he called for urgent action to tackle climate change and said we must heed scientific warnings more than ever before. In his speech, he heralded the UK’s cutting-edge science, saying the more we know, “the heavier the responsibility to act”.

Launching the projections yesterday, Environment Secretary Michael Gove said:

This cutting-edge science opens our eyes to the extent of the challenge we face, and shows us a future we want to avoid.

The UK is already a global leader in tackling climate change, cutting emissions by more than 40 per cent since 1990 – but we must go further.

By having this detailed picture of our changing climate, we can ensure we have the right infrastructure to cope with weather extremes, homes and businesses can adapt, and we can make decisions for the future accordingly.

UKCP18 has been developed by the Met Office Hadley Centre, in partnership with Defra, BEIS, the Devolved Administrations and the Environment Agency.

The projections will now be used as a tool to guide decision-making and boost resilience, helping coastal communities to prepare for higher sea levels and temperatures and enabling businesses to ‘future-proof’ vital infrastructure like railways, roads and power stations.

They will also be factored into the UK’s flood adaptation planning and the Environment Agency’s advice to flood and coastal erosion risk management authorities.

The EA’s flood forecasting warning and capability is world-leading, with its six-year flood investment programme progressing to better protect 300,000 homes from flooding.

Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency said:

The UK18 projections are further evidence that we will see more extreme weather in the future – we need to prepare and adapt now, climate change impacts are already being felt with the record books being re-written.

It is not too late to act. Working together – governments, business, and communities - we can mitigate the impacts of climate change and successfully adapt to a different future.

The Environment Agency cannot wall up the country, but we will be at the forefront - protecting communities, building resilience, and responding to incidents.

Tree-mendous photographs help save our oaks

An image of an oak with the sun streaming through from above.
Credit: Alan Price ‘Celebrating Our Oaks’.

Today we announced the winners of Action Oak’s ‘Celebrating Our Oaks’ category in the International Garden Photographer of the Year (IGPOTY) competition.

The story was covered in the  Daily Telegraph and The Yorkshire Post. The beautiful pictures also appeared in print in The Guardian, The Times and The Telegraph.

Action Oak is a major campaign to protect the UK’s oak trees from threats including pests and diseases. It is a unique collaboration of partners including charities, government, landowners and research institutions, dedicated to protecting oak trees for future generations.

Defra Biosecurity Minister Lord Gardiner said:

I am delighted to announce the outcome of the very special ‘Celebrating our Oaks’ photography category and I would like to extend my congratulations to our worthy winner Alan Price for ‘Oak Sunrise’, a truly captivating image.

All the pictures submitted serve as wonderful reminders about why Action Oak was established in the first place; to protect our country’s most iconic trees for future generations to be inspired by and enjoy.

A hardback book, titled ‘Celebrating Our Oaks’ and foreworded by Dame Judi Dench, has also been launched today and is available to buy on the Woodland Trust website or in Kew Garden shops. It features all of the winners of the photography competition plus exclusive contributions from celebrities including Joanna Lumley, Jon Snow and Alan Titchmarsh.

A touring exhibition of a selection of photographs from the competition, plus a number taken by a range of celebrities, will be launched at Wakehurst Place in late January. The exhibition will then tour around the UK to locations including the Yorkshire Arboretum, Westonbirt Arboretum, and Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, throughout 2019. Please see the Action Oak website for dates and locations. 

Defra response to EFRA Committee report on Agriculture Bill

An image of a green field with a tree and the blue sky in the background.

Today, the EFRA Committee has published a report on its scrutiny of the Agriculture Bill, which was introduced into the House of Commons in September.

The report calls for an amendment to the Bill to ensure that food products imported as part of any future trade deal should meet or exceed British standards relating to production, animal welfare and the environment. The report has been covered in the Independent, Daily Telegraph, Yorkshire Post and i.

Minister have clearly stated, on a number of occasions, that the UK will not lower its standards when entering new trade agreements. At the second reading of the Agriculture Bill the Secretary of State said “we will not enter into trade or other agreements that undercut or undermine the high standards on which British agriculture’s reputation depends.”

When we seek access to foreign markets, we adopt and abide by the customs and rules in those markets. This is what countries will have to do when they seek access to our markets too.

Increasing exports is also a priority for this Government. There are great opportunities for our world-renowned produce, such as beef, lamb, cheese and whisky, to take advantage of the growing interest in British food and drink around the world.

A Defra spokesperson said:

Ministers have always been absolutely clear that we will not water down our high standards in pursuit of trade deals. Our food security is built on a strong domestic production base and access to safe, high quality imports from a diverse range of countries.

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