What can be done to adapt

Flood defence (3)Priorities for early action on adaptation include taking measures that provide immediate benefits today and in a range of future possible climates. For example, installing water saving devices could cut water use by households by 20 %, saving households with a water meter money on their bill.

It is also important to ensure decisions with long-lasting consequences do not create obstacles for future adaptation. As an example, siting new buildings and infrastructure in low flood risk areas where possible, will have a long term benefit.More details about adaptation priorities for the UK are available in the ASC 2010 Progress report. The ASC has also reviewed progress in adaptation in Scotland and Wales.

Action by organisations in the public and private sector, as well as individuals, will be essential for ensuring the UK is preparing for the effects of a changing climate.


  • Local authorities have an important role to play, using planning and other policy levers to ensure that buildings and local infrastructure are resilient to increased risk of flooding, water stress and overheating. As well as providing green spaces for keeping cities cool and absorbing heavy rain, they should locate new buildings away from flood risk areas as much as possible and ensure an effective emergency response after an extreme weather event. Those responsible for parks or forests can also help protect and restore natural habitats.
  • Businesses should consider climate change when making long-lasting decisions about the location and design of their buildings, and the effect on supply chains or services. Making their business resilient to extreme weather today will reduce operating costs in the future. Those responsible for the provision of important infrastructure services, such as power, water and roads, should ensure that current and planned investments are resilient to climate change. And trade bodies can help by encouraging good practice amongst their sectors.
  • Households can take actions that will benefit them today and in the future, whatever the weather. For instance, they can use permeable paving for front and back gardens to reduce surface water run-off. See Environment Agency website for more on preparing your property for flooding
  • The Government has a critical role in removing barriers to action and encouraging adaptation. For more details, please visit the UK adaptation policy page.