Advice on adapting to climate change

The Adaptation Committee of the Committee on Climate Change has two key statutory roles – to give advice to Government on climate risks and opportunities for the UK, and to evaluate progress towards delivering the Government’s National Adaptation Programme (England only). The Committee can also be requested under the Climate Change (Scotland) Act to assess progress in adapting to climate change through Scotland’s Climate Change Adaptation Programme.

Advice on climate risks and opportunities

  • The Adaptation Committee leads the development of the independent Evidence Report that informs the statutory UK Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA). The Committee is currently preparing the Evidence Report for the third CCRA, a task involving around 400 experts from over 80 organisations.
  • The UK Government largely endorsed the findings of the Committee’s last independent CCRA evidence report published in 2016. The CCRA formed the basis of the most recent National Adaptation Programme in England, as well as national adaptation programmes of the devolved administrations.
  • Other countries including New Zealand and Korea as well as UK regions (e.g. Glasgow City Region, Kent) have used all or parts of the CCC’s novel methodological framework to inform their respective climate risk assessments and resulting plans.

Progress in adapting to climate change in England

  • The Committee reports every two years on progress in adapting to climate change in England. The Committee’s last three progress report in 2015, 2017 and 2019, set out the scale of the challenge to ramp up planning and action to adapt to climate change impacts.  .
  • Many of our previous recommendations for improving adaptation planning and implementation in England have been subsequently taken up by Government and its arm’s length bodies. Examples include the need for:
    • A long-term, outcomes-based strategy for flood risk and water resources management in England, with built-in flexibility to respond as the climate changes.
    • Increased investment for flood defences.
    • Ensuring future climate change is included in the designation of water stressed areas.
    • Review of current policy on sustainable drainage systems (SuDS), including placing higher priority on ‘green’ SuDS that have multiple co-benefits (swales, ponds, green spaces) over ‘grey’ SuDS (underground tanks).
    • Review of policies related to overheating in buildings, including the Building Regulations and National Planning Policy Framework.

However, much remains to be done to improve both planning for a range of future climate scenarios, including a minimum 2°C rise in global temperature and up to a 4°C rise in global temperature, and putting in place actions that reduce the risk.