Climate change challenges set out in new national assessment

The climate change challenges and opportunities facing the UK economy, environment and public health have been laid out in the government’s latest Climate Change Risk Assessment, published 18 January 2017.

The new report recognises how the trend towards warmer winters, hotter summers and changing rainfall patterns is affecting communities across the UK and sets out the government’s ongoing investment and work to tackle these risks. This report sets out the 6 priority risk areas requiring further action in the UK over the next 5 years:

  1. flooding and coastal change
  2. health and well-being from high temperatures
  3. water shortages
  4. natural capital
  5. food production and trade
  6. pests and diseases and invasive non-native species

Changes to these categories because of climate change present challenges and opportunities to all aspects of our society and must be acted upon if we are to achieve our ambitions of creating a stronger, more resilient economy and a natural environment that can provide the vital resources and services we need.

Since the first National Adaptation Programme in July 2013, the UK has already made considerable progress, including:

  • Investing £2.5 billion over six years to improve flood defenses, to better protect over 300,000 homes.
  • Updating the Heatwave Plan for England to protect the population from heat-related harm to health.
  • Strengthening planning policy to make clear that sustainable drainage systems should be included in all major new developments, unless demonstrated to be inappropriate.
  • Placing a new resilience duty on Ofwat through the Water Act 2014 and publishing the Enabling Resilience in the Water Sector report to ensure the long-term resilience of water and sewerage services.
  • Working closely with the food industry to ensure the security and resilience of food supply, using the latest technology delivered through the new Agri-Tech Innovation Centres.
  • And the UK committed to The Paris Agreement in December 2015, joining 195 countries in an historic global deal to tackle climate change by reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Climate Change Risk Assessment, drawing primarily on the independent evidence report published in July 2016 by the Adaptation Sub-Committee of the Committee on Climate Change, will be followed by the National Adaptation Programme to be published in 2018.