Floods, droughts and heatwaves could cost the economy tens of billions of pounds and hundreds of thousands of jobs by 2050, according to a new report commissioned by conservation charity WWF.
The Independent reports that flooding in 2050 on a similar scale to the winter of 2013/14 would affect more than twice as many homes if current policies – such as allowing construction on flood plains – continued.
The process is based on stress tests used in the financial sector to try to work out the future health of a company, such as a bank, in the event of an economic crisis.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove has spoken about the need to ensure that the “insights of natural capital thinking and accounting” are used to inform policy.
As part of that, ministers plan to publish what could be a ground-breaking 25-year environment plan, although a draft version leaked to the BBC earlier this year was criticised for its “grand promises” but “zero detail.”
The new report, produced for WWF by analysts Aecom Infrastructure and Environment and Cambridge Econometrics, warned the cost of extreme weather events would soar if the Government fails to plan ahead.
Floods in 2013/14 were estimated to have caused £1.3bn worth of damage.
But the report said a similar flood in 2050 would be much worse, costing some £2.2bn if the population kept growing, the climate continued to change and not enough was done to adapt to the new weather conditions.
The report also warned of a significant increase in the numbers of roads, railway lines, care homes, schools, emergency services, hospitals and even mobile phone masts at high risk because of flooding.
A three-month drought in 2050 could result in the loss of 354,000 jobs and cost the economy about £35bn if reserves of water continued to be depleted, the report suggested.
Many homes and businesses now have a pack of FloodSax sandless sandbags so they are ready for any flooding emergency. They are space-saving to store but can be transformed into sandbags within minutes simply by adding water.
Around two million have now been sold worldwide.