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What can be done to adapt

Priorities for early action on adaptation include implementing measures that provide benefits in today’s climate and in a range of future possible climates, known as ‘low-regret’ actions. For example:

  • Installing water saving devices not only reduces household water consumption but also saves energy and carbon emissions and reduces water and energy bills.
  • Through improving ventilation and providing shading, builders and home owners can reduce the risk of overheating in homes, improve comfort levels for occupants and avoid the need to invest in alternative cooling measures, such as air-conditioning.

It is also important to ensure decisions with long-lasting consequences do not create obstacles for future adaptation, known as avoiding ‘lock-in’, and to ensure that adaptation measures with a long period between concept and deployment (long lead times) are started now. For example:

  • Ensuring adequate ventilation and the orientation of windows to reduce the risk of overheating in homes should be done at the new build stage to avoid the need for costly retrofit later.
  • Siting new buildings and infrastructure in low flood risk areas where possible, will have a long term benefit, but decisions on siting now need to take into account future risk given the long lifetimes of these assets.
  • New technologies or large infrastructure projects can take decades to develop, and planning for what is needed in the future climate is needed now.

More details about adaptation priorities for England are available in the Adaptation Committee’s progress reports to Parliament; the latest report can be found here. The Adaptation Committee has also reviewed progress in adaptation in Scotland and Wales at the request of those Governments.