Environment secretary Caroline Spelman last night called on UK plc to urgently prepare for the risks associated with climate change to avoid problems and improve resiliance but also to capitalise on the potential opportunities that changes to weather patterns will bring.
Speaking at an event at the Met Office Hadley Centre in Exeter, Spelman said that businesses needed to prepare for the opportunities and challenges that will arise from a warmer climate.
"We know that some level of change is now unavoidable and it is the responsibility of us all to think about what a changing climate will mean for our health, our businesses and our way of life," she said. "I want to ensure that UK businesses are well placed to take advantage of the new opportunities that arise as well as ensuring they are ready for the difficulties that higher temperatures and more adverse weather could mean for their staff and working practices."
Department of Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) this week released the results of a new Ipsos MORI survey  of more than 600 organisations, which found that while three quarters of businesses were concerned about the potential impact of climate change, only 23 per cent had actually started to do something about the risks and opportunities that climate change poses.
Spelman urged more businesses to carry out detailed climate risk assessments in order to establish how they are likely to be affected by rising temperatures and the anticipated increase in flood risks. "It is crucial that we all now think what climate change could mean for us," she said. "Impacts will vary considerably from place to place due to different geographies and because local populations have their own very distinctive circumstances, characteristics and priorities."
Meanwhile, the Carbon Trust has stopped providing free carbon-cutting advice services to larger companies with immediate effect, is it looks to slash its overheads and prepares for looming government funding cuts.
Companies based in England with a yearly group energy bill of £500,000 or less will continue to receive free advisory services and carbon surveys, and the changes will not affect firms in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland because devolved governments will continue to make funding available for larger companies keen to work with the Carbon Trust.
Larger companies using the Carbon Trust's advisory services will also no longer be able to make use of a co-funding deal that previously saw the organisation cover 30 per cent of the cost of advisory work.
Companies now expected to pay for services could include FTSE 350 and mid-cap companies, or medium-sized manufacturing firms. New clients would be asked to pay anything between £1,000 for a few days of consultancy advice, to tens of thousands of pounds for months of advice designed to develop a green strategy.