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Understanding climate risks to UK infrastructure: Evaluation of the third round of the Adaptation Reporting Power

1. Outline

The Adaptation Reporting Power (ARP) was established under the Climate Change Act to help understand climate risks and progress in adaptation. It enables the UK Government to request reports from critical infrastructure providers on the current and predicted effects of climate change on their organisation; their proposals for adapting to climate change; and progress made towards their implementation. The ARP is a key element of the adaptation policy cycle and provides a unique source for understanding the UK’s infrastructure-related climate risks.

This is the CCC’s report on the third round of the Adaptation Reporting Power (ARP3). We were commissioned by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to undertake an evaluation of ARP3, to assess the extent to which the ARP3 returns meet the requirements set out in the Act and the objectives and principles in Defra’s strategy for this round.


2. Key messages

The third reporting round (ARP3) concluded in December 2021. Like the previous round five years earlier, participation from invited organisations was voluntary. Around 80% of the organisations invited to report have submitted reports and feature in this assessment. This includes organisations in the electricity, water, gas, road, rail, airports, ports, lighthouses, and digital sectors.

  • The key conclusions are:
    • Report quality has improved since the last reporting round but significant opportunities for improvements remain – including managing climate risks from dependent infrastructure.
    • Defra has largely achieved its objectives for this reporting cycle – but gaps in coverage and misalignment of timing are undermining effectiveness in informing national climate risk planning.
    • It is essential that the next reporting cycle is strengthened to maximise its effectiveness in helping to manage climate risk.
  • However, there are still important gaps in the coverage of the ARP.
    • Around 20% of organisations invited to report did not submit reports.
    • Around half of the organisations that were invited, but did not report, had done so in previous rounds, indicating that their engagement with the ARP process has gone down.
    • These gaps in coverage exist in many of the sectors. The non-reporting organisations include one airport, six port authorities, one rail operator, five organisations in the water sector, two government regulators, one financial regulator, and two heritage organisations. Not all infrastructure operators are formally invited to report, although this does not preclude organisations making a submission. This means the climate resilience of some crucial UK infrastructure is not known.

To note: SES Water (Sutton and East Surrey Water) is erroneously included in the list of non-reporting organisations in Table A2, however they did submit an ARP3 report to Defra in December 2021 and are included in this evaluation.