Comment: Climate change risks aren’t going away

Today marks the launch of the third Independent Assessment of UK Climate Risk (CCRA3). This is put together by the Climate Change Committee (CCC) who has a legal duty to advise the Government on CCRA3, which will be published next year, ahead of the next National Adaptation Programme which will be completed in 2023.

CCRA3 sets out the risks from climate change to the UK’s people, infrastructure, natural environment and businesses. The science, research and analysis that goes into the Assessment blows my mind entirely and takes years of preparation, but what results is a hugely useful resource that is critical to us preparing for what is likely to happen as a result of climate change.

We all know this is not something we can ignore any longer, and the evidence essentially tells us this.

I would recommend that you start by having a look through a series of briefings, which outline the risks to various different sectors of our society. For those of you wanting the detail, the summary of risks to England or the Advice Report is the next place to go, and the real technical stuff is in the Technical Report.

SWM is proud to have been heavily involved in the development of many of the resources outlined above, all of which can be downloaded on the UK Climate Risk website. We led a consortium of climate adaptation and communications experts from across the UK in developing an initial advisory report for the CCC on how to improve the CCRA’s accessibility. Two of the outputs that came from this research were the briefings and national summaries; we wrote the England version of the latter.

It is now the job of the Governments in all four UK nations to get their heads round what this means for their countries and associated policies and programmes. What isn’t an option is to do nothing and hope for the best, because regardless of our efforts and successes with our Net Zero ambitions, we are wedded to an element of climate change which we’re already seeing today. As we come gradually out of the COVID-19 crisis, we need to apply the same sense of urgency, change and action that we did to dealing with the pandemic to tackling climate change, on both the mitigation and adaptation front.

SWM is responding to the publication of CCRA3 by working in collaboration with the Environment Agency to produce a West Midlands version of the climate risk assessment and, more importantly, a high-level adaptation plan that will set out the initial actions that we believe need to take place to kick start our preparation for more extreme weather, heatwaves, flooding and droughts. We hope that the plan, due to be published later this year, will set the framework and act as a catalyst for action which is badly needed. We will be using the CCRA3 resources to support this work, and then hope to support our local stakeholders to implement the actions that we recommend.

We’re always keen to learn of any local adaptation activity going on in our region, so please do get in touch; such intelligence will help us in our development of the West Midlands plan.

Alan Carr, Senior Sustainability Adviser, SWM

More information on CCRA3: