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Agreement reached to prepare communities for climate change

On 31 May, an agreement between Defra, the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) and the Local Government Association (LGA) was reached which called for vital public services to be better protected and emergency planning and social care made more resilient after signing a joint statement showing their commitment to adapt the country to climate change.

A Climate Summit was hosted by the LGA following the publication for the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment in January 2012 and this agreement was reached in response to the increased impacts identified. Discussions focused on what more needs to be done to prepare councils, and the vital public services they are responsible for, for a changing climate and how Government can help them develop adaptation plans.  Their findings will inform the National Adaptation Programme, which the Government will publish in 2013.

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman, Communities Minister Andrew Stunell and Local Government Association Chair Sir Merrick Cockell signed the agreement, signalling the importance of councils and central government working together to protect key services such as, health, economic development and public spaces such as parks, from the affects of climate change.

The full commitment by the LGA, CLG and Defra is shown below and more information can be found on the Defra website;

‘We recognise the importance of increasing resilience to our changing climate. We now know more about what the impacts of climate change will mean for us. The UK’s first National Climate Change Risk Assessment identifies the urgent risks we need to act on now including: flood risk, pressure on water supplies and the impacts of higher temperatures on public health, critical infrastructure and energy use. 

Councils have a critical role to play in working with partners and communities to plan and ensure the UK is better prepared and resilient to climate change. They can help to increase the resilience of local places and communities, including by:

  • building resilience into decisions on buildings, roads, businesses, parks and other public spaces;
  • building resilience into key services such as social care, emergency planning and public health;
  • making the best use of land, assets, investments and maintenance spending, to manage risk better;
  • planning for the long term by reflecting climate risks and sustainable development in Local Plans;
  • increasing organisational resilience to extreme weather by building climate change risks into corporate risk registers;
  • supporting retrofitting, green-build, the design and management of green spaces;
  • encouraging local businesses to be climate ready, to ensure they are resilient and competitive.’

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