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More Action needed to prepare for climate change impacts

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The Committee on Climate Change have published a new report to Parliament outlining the UK’s headway on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, meeting carbon budgets, and progress in preparing for climate change. The report finds that although some action has been taken to address the risks from climate change, the overall state of the natural environment is worsening, reducing its resilience to climate change. Two new plans covering emissions reductions and actions to prepare for climate change are needed urgently to meet the UK’s climate change objectives.

More Action needed to prepare for climate change impacts

The Climate Change Act 2008

The Climate Change Act 2008 integrated the issue of climate change into UK legislation and requires the Government to publish key documents to help the UK reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the risks from climate change. These documents include defined carbon budgets, a UK wide climate change risk assessment and a national adaptation plan.

Carbon Budgets

Through the Climate Change Act, the government has committed to reduce emissions by at least 80% of 1990 levels by 2050; and contribute to global emission reductions, to limit global temperature rise to as little as possible above 2°C.

To meet these targets, the government has set five-yearly carbon budgets which currently run until 2032. They restrict the amount of greenhouse gas the UK can legally emit in a five year period. More information can be found on the www.gov.uk or www.theccc.org.uk websites.

Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA)

Under section 56 of the Act, it is the duty of the Secretary of State to lay reports before Parliament, every five years, containing an assessment of the risks for the UK of the current and predicted impact of climate change.

  • First UK CCRA was published 26 January 2012 (Link to Report)
  • Second UK CCRA was published 18 January 2017 (Link to Report)
  • Third UK CCRA is due to be published in 2022

National Adaptation Programme (NAP)

Under section 58 of the Act, it is the duty of the Secretary of State to lay programmes before Parliament setting out (a) the objectives of Her Majesty's Government in the UK in relation to adaptation to climate change, (b) the Government's proposals and policies for meeting those objectives, and (c) the time-scales for introducing those proposals and policies.

  • First NAP was published July 2013 (Link to Report)
  • Second NAP is due to be published in 2018


The Committee on Climate Change (CCC), also established under the Climate Change Act 2008, advise the UK Government and Devolved Administrations on emissions targets, and report to Parliament on progress made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and preparing for climate change.

Reducing emissions and preparing for climate change

The CCC report, published on 29 June 2017 in three volumes, presents the CCC’s and ASC’s most up to date evidence and recommendations to Parliament on the UK’s progress to meeting its climate change objectives, pursuant to Section 36 (1) and Section 59 (1) of the Climate Change Act 2008.

Volume 1

Reducing emissions and preparing for climate change – 2017 Report to Parliament

This report presents the summary and recommendations of the CCC’s 2017 Report to Parliament and the ASC’s 2017 Report to Parliament.

Volume 2

Meeting Carbon Budgets: Closing the policy gap – 2017 Report to Parliament

This report is the CCC’s ninth annual assessment of UK progress in reducing emissions and meeting carbon budgets.

Volume 3

Progress in preparing for climate change – 2017 Report to Parliament

This report sets out the ASC’s second assessment of the National Adaptation Programme, which drives action to prepare for climate change impacts.

 

The CCC and ASC highlight that two new plans covering emissions reductions and actions to prepare for climate change are needed now to meet the UK’s climate change objectives. These plans, to be developed by Government could help to deliver better policy, leading to new opportunities to create multiple benefits from action to address climate change.

The first plan, covering emissions reductions, requires Government to place before Parliament the proposals and policies for meeting the UK commitment to achieve the domestic budgets outlined in the fourth carbon budget and fifth carbon budget reports, and to the Paris Agreement (see more in a previous ADAS article here). The CCC note that many existing policies are running out and additional new policies are required.

The second plan, covering actions to prepare for climate change, requires Government to lay before Parliament proposals and policies that address the risks outlined in the CCRA. The new National Adaptation Programme (NAP) will set out the objectives, policies and proposals for adapting to climate impacts. The CCC note that work to update the NAP is required now so that it can be published in early 2018.

To view or download the full report(s), please click on the links above or go to https://www.theccc.org.uk/publications/.

Progress in preparing for climate change

The Adaptation Sub-Committee (ASC), which is part of the CCC, support the CCC in advising and reporting on progress in adaptation. Volume 3 of the report sets out the ASC’s second assessment of the National Adaptation Programme, which drives action to prepare for climate change impacts.

Key findings from the ASC report show that some action has been taken to address the risks from climate change, including important steps to fund and improve river and coastal flood defences and to improve the resilience of energy, transport and water infrastructure to severe weather, but the overall state of the natural environment is worsening, reducing its resilience to climate change. An infographic summarising some of the key points from the ASC report can be found here.  

The ASC report was supported by research from ADAS, who provided an assessment of more than 70 indicators of climate change risk and adaptation action in England. The indicators assessed climate change risk and adaptation action across a number of key areas including the built environment, business and infrastructure, healthy and resilient communities, agriculture and forestry, and the natural environment.

The ADAS supporting research accompanies the Adaptation Sub-Committee’s ‘2017 Report to Parliament: Progress in preparing for climate change’ and can be downloaded here

To find out more about how ADAS can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and/or identify climate impacts and opportunities for adapting to climate, please contact Charles.Ffoulkes@adas.co.uk.

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About the author                      

Charles Ffoulkes, an Agri-food and Climate Change Consultant in the Sustainable Food and Farming business at ADAS, works in the agri-food sector with private companies and public sector organisations (including Defra, the Committee on Climate Change, and Climate Change Commission for Wales). His work is primarily focused on projects related to the impacts of climate change and extreme weather events, helping businesses and their supply chains to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to projected climate change.

 

 

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