Recent and past extreme events in southern England, such as the 1976 drought, severe flooding in Cornwall in 2010, and heatwaves in 2003 and 2006, highlight some of the effects that weather has on our lives and businesses. For example, intense rainfall in Cornwall on 16th and 17th November 2010 caused flooding to more than 250 properties, whilst flooded roads and a landslip on the main railway line led to widespread transport disruption, affecting many more businesses, residents and visitors.
Heatwaves, like in the summer of 2006, can boost visitor numbers and substantially benefit the tourist industry. However, heatwaves also bring problems – the 2003 heatwave led to an estimated 2000 additional heat-related deaths across the UK; and tourist destinations had to cope with huge additional pressure on transport infrastructure and local services as people flocked to the beaches.
The highest ever recorded temperature in the UK was 38.5°C in 2003. Average summer rainfall has decreased by between 8.8 and 13.1 percent since 1961.
These changes are set to continue into the future. For instance, average summer temperatures in the south of the UK are expected to rise 2.7°C by the 2050s—which would make the heatwave of 2003 an average summer—but the hottest day of the year could be significantly hotter. Extreme weather, including intense rainfall/flooding, droughts and heatwaves are also expected to become more frequent and intense.
The climate information and figures used in this website are taken from the UK Climate Projections 2009 (UKCP09) and are based on the central estimate under the medium emissions scenario. For more information about observed UK climate trends, see the report, ‘The climate of the UK and recent trends’ (revised edition UKCIP 2009), produced under the umbrella of the 2009 UK Climate Projections (UKCP09).
More detailed information about projected climate change and its impacts in the South West of England can be found in Climate SouthWest’s report Warming to the Idea: building resilience to extreme weather and climate change in the South West. South West Tourism, the Environment Agency and Climate SouthWest have also developed a case study investigating the use of the UK Climate Projections 2009 for exploring the likely impact of climate change on tourism comfort and seasonality in the South West region. For more information, view the report; Assessing the impacts of climate change on tourism in the South West region.
Despite rising awareness about climate change, many businesses are still not taking the consequences seriously and do not necessarily recognise the risks and opportunities that it poses to them. A 2006 survey showed that whilst 8.6% of businesses are aware that climate change is a problem, only 35% think that it is a threat to them (AXA Insurance 2007).
Preparing for extreme weather makes good business sense, as it is about reducing risk and grasping opportunities. Climate change and extreme weather should, therefore, be treated like any other business risk and be incorporated into existing business practices such as risk assessments, business continuity plans and health and safety procedures.
Being unprepared may leave your business vulnerable to the costs, disruption and distress caused by extreme weather events. In some cases, adapting to extreme weather (for instance through flood resilience measures) may help to reduce your insurance premiums and may even become a criteria in the future for securing adequate insurance.
The need to adapt to climate change is also increasingly being recognised through new and tightening legislation and targets, with the UK Climate Change Act becoming law in November 2008 and the European Commission publishing its White Paper on Adapting to Climate Change in 2009. Businesses may increasingly be required to conform to climate change legislation in the future - preparing now will help your business stay ahead of the game.
Insurance for Small Businesses: a guide to protecting your business (Pdf download)
Guide from the Association of British Insurers - includes guidance on reducing the risks of flooding.
Managing Change Guide (Resource Efficiency & Corporate Responsibility)
Unique diagnostic tool and route map to help organisations change their business culture towards resource efficiency and for addressing important issues like climate change.
Preparing for Climate Change: a practical guide for small businesses
Guide from AXA setting out the evidence of climate change and the impacts of severe weather events. Provides advice on what businesses can do to reduce the risks, including developing a business continuity plan.
Business Link ‘Adapt your business to the effects of climate change’
Online guide developed with Defra and the Environment Agency covers advice on integrating climate change plans into business strategy, insurance issues, some practical steps and a specific focus on the agriculture, tourism and construction sectors.
The Business Areas Climate Impacts Assessment Tool (BACLIAT)
This practical guide, produced by the UK Climate Impacts Programme (UKCIP), helps businesses and organisations assess appropriate responses to the impacts of climate change.
Association of British Insurers (ABI):
020 7600 3333
Business Link in the South East:
0845 600 9006
Business Link in the South West:
0845 600 9966
Climate South East:
South West Tourism Alliance:
0117 230 1262
Tourism South East:
023 8062 5400
UK Climate Impacts Programme (UKCIP):
The checklist guides you through a series of questions to help you assess your business’ preparedness and identify practical actions you can take. Go to Checklist
The most important things you can do to climate-proof your tourism business. Go to Top Tips
Forward-thinking businesses are already preparing for climate change. To find out how, read our case studies