The country is sleepwalking into “climate chaos, and economic chaos”, according to the region’s directly elected Mayor Dan Norris, after rainy weather caused the economy to shrink.
Official figures released today (Wednesday 13 September) showed gross domestic product shrank 0.5% in July from June, which was worse than analysts had projected.
All three key areas of the economy – services, construction and production – declined, according to the ONS, with unusually wet weather in July identified as having caused a dip in particular in retail, and in the construction sector.
July was Britain’s sixth wettest on record, with an average of 5.5 inches of rain, says the Met Office.
Mayor Dan Norris said the sobering stats provided a ‘snapshot’ of how extreme weather caused by the climate crisis will impact the West’s economy, with studies showing intense downpours, heatwaves and other extreme weather will increase due to climate change.
Mr Norris warned this could spell trouble for the West of England economy long term unless action is taken, which is why investing in climate resilience is so vital. Norris is once again urging the Prime Minister to hand mayoral combined authorities additional powers and resources so he can take more regional action to tackle the climate crisis in his patch.
He also made the point that the country needs to “brace” itself ahead of more wet weather this autumn, and beyond, which could cause more “economic storms” impacting residents.
Mr Norris said: “We must, as a region, and as a country, get on top of the problem of changing weather patterns which will have a real impact on the economy, and people, long term. The truth is unusual weather, like we’ve seen recently, will become more frequent, not less; we are sleepwalking into climate chaos, and economic chaos if we do nothing.
“That’s why I’m working with the Met Office on a region-wide climate adaptation plan after the Government’s own one completely lacked the regional ambition necessary to do all the things we need to do to make a climate-resilient economy in this country a reality.
“That means things like tree planting, keeping streets cool as well as measures to stop flooding, and retrofitting shops to keep them cosy. There is plenty of work we need to be getting on with in the West of England to brace for further storms ahead, and to keep the West’s economy thriving.”
GDP measures the value of goods and services produced in the UK. It also estimates the size of and growth in the economy.