Additional funding for the Environment Agency to provide practical advice to help businesses, organisations and communities prepare for climate change has been announced by Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman today.
The Environment Agency (EA) will take on a new, additional role as the Government’s delivery body in England for advice on climate adaptation - the actions needed to build our resilience to the changes and impacts projected such as hotter, drier summers; warmer, wetter winters; and an increased risk of severe weather and flooding. Defra will provide EA with an additional £2millon per year to deliver climate adaptation advice, an increase on the current £1.5million per year budget paid to the current delivery partners, the UK Climate Impacts Programme (UKCIP) and the UK’s regional climate change partnerships.
EA will use its existing structure and links with local communities and businesses to increase the reach of adaptation advice across the country. EA plan to focus on key sectors such as health, water, transport, engineering and finance. In each sector EA will seek to work in partnership with the relevant trade or professional bodies and regulators to tap into relevant expertise and share knowledge on each sector’s adaptation needs.
The move will build on the excellent work of UKCIP, which has since 1997 provided information and support to organisations adapting to the impacts of a changing climate. This has helped to establish the UK as a world leader on climate adaptation.
Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said:
“It is vital to our social and economic prosperity that we are prepared for the risks of climate change, and ready to take advantage of the opportunities it may bring. We have built an excellent understanding of the likely impacts of climate change, backed up with solid evidence, and there has been significant progress in providing practical advice. Now we need to increase the scope of adaptation around the country, and encourage action at a faster rate. The Environment Agency is well positioned to take on this role, using its extensive network to reach communities and businesses and help them plan for climate change. This is a priority for Defra, which is why I am delighted to announce more funding to deliver the practical support required on the ground.
“The UK Climate Impacts Programme has played a crucial role in providing solid foundations for the adaptation measures needed, particularly its work to introduce climate change adaptation into the mainstream of organisational planning. I would like to thank everyone at UKCIP for the expertise they have provided and dedication they have shown.”
Environment Agency Chairman Lord Chris Smith said:
“We look forward to playing a key role in helping businesses and local authorities adapt to climate change.
“These extra responsibilities enable us to build on the work we already do to tackle flooding and coastal erosion and manage precious water resources, water quality, wildlife and habitats.
“We are already starting to see changes to the natural environment across England and Wales as a result of the changing climate and will continue to work with communities and partners to help them adapt.”
Dr Chris West, Director of UKCIP, said:
“Assessing the impacts of climate change and thinking about how we must adapt has moved into the mainstream, and I’d like to think that UKCIP’s work has made a difference in this regard. UKCIP has created a network of decision-makers who understand adaptation and are committed to making it happen in all sorts of organisations - in all levels of government, the private sector, civil society and other agencies. We all have a challenge ahead, but the UK is one of the most advanced countries in the world in its preparations for climate change.”
In September 2011, the Environment Agency will take over as Defra’s principal partner in delivering the Government’s adaptation programme. The EA will work closely with UKCIP, whose contract runs to the end of September, to ensure a smooth transition. The EA will finalise its plans for taking on the additional role over the coming months.
- Adapting to climate change advice is currently delivered for Defra by the UK Climate Impacts Programme (UKCIP), regional Climate Change Partnerships and the Local & Regional Adaptation Partnership (LRAP). Defra currently provides UKCIP with £1million per year, with a further £500,000 allocated to the regional climate change committees and the LRAP.
- UKCIP is a programme which focuses on the challenge of the impacts of unavoidable climate change. The UKCIP began its work in 1997 when climate change was still regarded as an environmental issue on the fringes of policymaking. UKCIP has created a host of tools and resources to help organisations prepare for the impacts of a changing climate, such as, UKCIP’s Adaptation Wizard, which provides step-by-step guidance for organisations starting the process of adapting to climate change. See http://www.ukcip.org.uk/
- The devolved Governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all make their own arrangements for the provision of adaptation advice and support. Defra will continue to fund research on climate science on behalf of the UK as a whole.