Policy

Adapting to climate change

Issue

The world’s climate and weather patterns are changing. Global temperatures are rising, causing more extreme weather events, like flooding and heatwaves.

‘Adaptation’ involves changing the way we do things to prepare for the potential impacts of climate change. This means we will be better protected against negative impacts like flooding. It also means we’ll be better prepared for new opportunities, like the chance to grow different crops.

The earlier we plan for adaptation, the less it will cost and the better equipped we will be to cope with potential changes.

Actions

Understanding the risks: the UK climate change risk assessment

To better understand the specific risks that climate change poses to the UK, we’ve carried out the first ‘UK climate change risk assessment’ (CCRA). The assessment gives a detailed analysis of 100 potential impacts of climate change.

We’ll update this assessment every 5 years, and we’ll publish the next assessment in 2017. The Adaptation Sub Committee of the Committee on Climate Change started collecting evidence in February 2014.

Planning for adaptation – National Adaptation Programme

The National Adaptation Programme (NAP) sets out what government, businesses and society are doing to become more climate ready.

The National Adaptation Programme report was published on 1 July 2013 and will be reviewed every 5 years.

Adapting essential services and infrastructure – adaptation reporting power

We need to make sure that essential services and infrastructure – whether that’s energy supplies or railways – are ready to cope with potential changes.

Under the adaptation reporting power, we’re asking the organisations responsible to report on risks to them from climate change and how they plan to respond. The 2013 strategy for exercising the adaptation reporting power was published on 1 July 2013.

Background

The UK Climate Projections 2009 (UKCP09) gave projections of future changes to the climate in the UK to the end of this century. It identified a number of possible risks and impacts, such as a risk of increased flooding and high temperatures causing buildings to overheat in summer.

Alongside the Climate Change Risk Assessment, we asked the 9 Climate Change Partnerships, part of Climate UK in England to produce information packs to set out the main risks and opportunities from climate change for different sectors locally.

Bills and legislation

The Climate Change Act 2008 legislates for climate change mitigation and adaption. It sets the requirements for the Climate Change Risk Assessment, the National Adaptation Programme and the Adaptation Reporting Power.

Who we’re working with

Defra is working with several other government departments and the Environment Agency to prepare the country for climate change through the ‘Climate Ready’ programme.

The Environment Agency is providing a Climate Ready Support Service, advising and supporting businesses, the public sector and other organisations on adaptation. Their work is informed by the work of the UK Climate Impacts Programme (UKCIP).

The 9 climate change partnerships in England are:

There are also partnerships in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

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