Foreign Secretary David Miliband has claimed that climate change is a 'low impact risk'. Interviewed in the October edition of Prospect, the former Environment Secretary compares climate change and terrorism in terms of their probability and the risk they pose to the UK (his second answer under ' On British politics, the future of Labour and the left'). He says that terrorism is low probability but high risk, while climate change is the opposite.
On the risk that climate change poses to the UK Miliband has got it wrong. It is true that we might not suffer most from changes in our immediate climate - although the floods will most likely get worse and more frequent, and the summers might disappear as they did this year - but the mistake that Miliband makes is to consider climate change solely from an environmental perspective. It is much more than that. It will create huge movements of peoples, seeking land safe from rising sea levels, floods, droughts, and hurricanes, and suitable for agriculture to sustain them. It will create conflict where these migrations inflame tensions between the nations of the world. There is in reality no limit to the impact that climate change will have, particularly for a nation like the UK that will be seen as a haven due to its relatively unaffected climate and its wealth.
One can only hope that his brother at the newly created Department for Energy and Climate Change has a different view. Although seeing the government's recent approval of a new runway at Stansted, it doesn't look like Miliband Jr has much clout at the Cabinet table.