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 effects of climate change. This means we will be better protected against consequences 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 publish the next assessment in 2017. The Adaptation Sub Committee of the Committee on Climate Change started collecting evidence to support this in February 2014.

Preparing for climate change – National Adaptation Programme

The National Adaptation Programme (NAP) sets out what government, businesses and society are doing to adapt better to the changing climate.

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

The Adaptation Sub Committee will assess how well the NAP report has been implemented so far by July 2015.

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’ve invited the organisations responsible to report on risks to them from climate change and how they plan to respond.

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 makes legal arrangements about 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

Adapting to climate change is a government wide issue and should be considered in all relevant policies. To support this, Defra works with a wide range of government departments and other partners to prepare the country for climate change. Business, local government, civil society and communities also have important roles to play in ensuring we are ready for a changing climate.

Adaptation Sub Committee

The Adaptation Sub Committee has a statutory role under the Climate Change Act 2008 to advise government on the preparation of the Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA), and assess progress on the implementation of the NAP. The committee is made up of experts from the fields of climate change, science and economics.

The Climate Ready Support Service for England

The Climate Ready Support Service, led by the Environment Agency, provides advice and support to the public, private and voluntary sectors to enable them to adapt to the changing climate.

You can contact the support service at: climatechange@environment-agency.gov.uk.

Working closely with the Met Office, the support service provides access to information on how the climate of the UK may change, including the UK Climate Projections 2009.

Local support for adapting to climate change

Climate UK and their network of Climate Change Partnerships (CCPs) provide local support to help businesses, councils, communities and other organisations adapt to a changing climate. Climate UK also hosts a range of useful online tools and resources.

The Local Government Association’s Climate Local initiative provides advice and tools to help build capacity on adaptation among councils.

The Local Adaptation Advisory Panel for England provides advice to central government from a local perspective. It consists of a range of councils and partners from across England, and work to identify and share best practice. The NAP report also contains a ‘Cities Commitment’ from the 9 largest cities across England.

Adaptation at European Union and international level

The EU Adaptation Strategy was adopted in April 2013 and includes guidance outlining actions to strengthen Europe’s ability to adapt to the effects of climate change. The European Climate Adaptation Platform (Climate-ADAPT) provides useful supporting material including information on adaptation action across Member States.

The recently published Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports make an important contribution to our understanding of climate change. The Working Group Two report is directly relevant to climate change adaptation.

As part of the UK’s national communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) we include a chapter setting out the main climate change impacts and adaptation activity in the UK. The latest report was submitted in December 2013.

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