Resilience to climate change

The Adaptation Sub-Committee (ASC) of the Committee on Climate Change has provided the evidence that underpins the UK Government’s Climate Change Risk Assessment. Its advice is also sought regularly by many other countries, including the United States and China.

Advice on climate risks and opportunities

  • In 2017, the UK Government and the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland set out the key areas of climate risk and opportunity for the UK. That assessment, known as the ‘UK Climate Change Risk Assessment’ or ‘CCRA’ reflected the findings of the Adaptation Sub-Committee’s evidence report on which the CCRA was based.
  • The Adaptation Sub-Committee’s advice is regularly sought by other countries undertaking national-level climate change risk assessments, including the United States, China, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, Ireland, Latvia, Japan, New Zealand and Kosovo.

Progress in preparing for climate change in England

  • The Adaptation Sub-Committee’s overarching advice on the second National Adaptation Programme, which sets out how the UK plans to adapt to the impacts of climate change, was endorsed by the UK government in October 2015.
  • Climate change has now been factored into the Environment Agency’s methodology for determining water stressed areas of the UK following specific ASC recommendations on this issue in 2012.
  • A long-term focus on water resources management, beyond 25 years ahead, was adopted by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofwat) following research commissioned as part of the ASC’s Climate Change Risk Assessment evidence report (2016).
  • The Government committed to increased investment in flood defences following the ASC’s progress report in 2014 that quantified the scale of historical underinvestment in this area.
  • The Government has committed to review current policy regarding sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) in new building developments. The Adaptation Sub-Committee recommended this change and it was introduced via the new Housing & Planning Act in 2016.
  • The ASC’s 2015 findings and recommendations on flood risk management were subsequently endorsed by the EFRA and EAC parliamentary select committee inquiries.
  • There has been renewed emphasis on natural flood risk management and working with natural processes to manage water flows over land following the ASC’s recommendations in its 2015 statutory report to Parliament.
  • Advice to the Natural Capital Committee on prioritising the need for long-term environmental outcomes was reflected in their 2017 advice to the Defra Secretary of State on the Government’s 25-year environment plan.
  • Following ASC recommendations in 2014, 2015 and 2017, new emphasis has been placed on the risks associated with overheating in UK buildings in National Planning Policy Framework guidance. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is also looking at the merits of a range of options to help address the risk of overheating in new homes.