UK adaptation policy

The Climate Change Act put in place a policy framework to promote adaptation action in the UK consisting of:

  • The UK Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA) is a five-yearly assessment of the major risks and opportunities from climate change to the UK. The most recent evidence report was published by the CCC in 2016. It outlined risks to the UK in six key areas:
    1. Flooding and coastal change risks to communities, businesses and infrastructure.
    2. Risks to health, well-being and productivity from higher temperatures.
    3. Risks of water deficits in public water supply, and for agriculture, energy generation and industry, with impacts on freshwater ecology.
    4. Risks to natural capital, including soils, coastal, marine and freshwater ecosystems, and biodiversity.
    5. Risks from climate-related impacts on domestic and international food production and trade.
    6. New and emerging pests and diseases, and non-native species, affecting people, plants and animals.

The third CCRA evidence report is due to be published in 2021 followed by the third CCRA Government report in 2022.

  • The National Adaptation Programme is the Government’s strategy to address the main risks and opportunities identified in the risk assessment for England, and is also produced every five years. The first National Adaptation Programme was published in July 2013 and the second in 2018. The latest programme sets out what government and others will be doing over the next 5 years to be ready for the challenges of climate change. It includes the following key areas: raising awareness of the need for climate change adaptation, improving the evidence base and taking timely action to increase resilience to the main groups of risks highlighted in the latest CCRA. The CCC reported to Parliament on the progress made in the implementation of the first programme in 2015 and 2017, and reported on the implementation of the second programme in 2019.
  • The devolved administrations also have their own adaptation programmes.
    • In Scotland the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 places a duty on ministers to lay a programme for climate change adaptation following each CCRA. The Act also requires an annual report on progress and for the CCC to independently report on progress every two years. The CCC’s most recent evaluation of the first Scottish Climate Adaptation Programme was in 2019.
    • In Wales the UK Climate Change Act requires Welsh Ministers to produce reports on the Welsh Government’s objectives, actions and future priorities regarding the impacts of climate change. The Environment (Wales) Act 2016 provides a framework to manage Wales’ natural resources, while the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 aims to improve the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of Wales. Both Acts include parts which are important to climate change adaptation. The Welsh Government produced a draft Climate Change Adaptation Plan for Wales in 2018. The CCC evaluated progress in Wales in 2013.
    • In Northern Ireland the UK Climate Change Act makes provision for the NI Executive to publish a Climate Change Adaptation programme as soon as reasonable practicable after the publication of each CCRA. The current Northern Ireland programme is therefore expected to be updated in 2019.
  • The UK Adaptation Reporting Power grants the Secretary of State the power to require public service organisations to produce reports on what they are doing to adapt to climate change. Since 2009 there have been two rounds of reporting, with just over 100 organisations invited to report on a voluntary basis for the second round between 2014 and 2016.  The CCC provides advice to the Government on the Reporting Power. Our most recent advice was published in 2017.