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Climate Change Committee: How does people’s behaviour affect their response to extreme weather events?

SWM’s role:

Contractor: Committee on Climate Change Lead partner: Aecom Sub-contractor: SWM SWM Project Manager: Alan Carr (Senior Sustainability Adviser)


This is one of seven research projects commissioned by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) to inform the development of the third UK Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA), due for publication in 2022. The project looked at how people have reacted to extreme weather and why, and what behaviours people and communities demonstrate when they are preparing for, responding to and recovering from an extreme weather event. The findings of this research will be used to help inform the development of the UK CCRA to ensure that its outputs adequately reflect how the impact of climate change on extreme weather events will affect communities and what support needs to be provided to communities most at risk to enable better preparedness.

Results and outcomes

The consultancy Aecom approached SWM to act in the role as sub-contractor, as they recognised our experience and track record of engaging with communities and stakeholders on the climate resilience agenda. Our tasks included:
  • Engaging with nationwide stakeholders to identify local communities in the UK that had been affected by extreme weather events
  • Interviewing individuals within these communities about their experiences of an extreme weather event, while considering the sensitive nature of the topic
  • Commenting on and disseminating a survey to the community members through trusted channels
  • Identifying relevant contacts at water companies in the UK and interviewing them to develop an idea of how they responded to the UK summer drought of 2018 and how they worked with communities to reduce water use
  • Providing critical analyses of Aecom’s written outputs and peer review the final report.
Ultimately, the outcomes of this project will be realised once authorities start acting on the messages given in the third CCRA. There is no doubt, however, that the findings of this project will focus minds on the challenges communities face when extreme weather hits. Engaging with people who have lived through such experiences is the only way one can possibly begin to imagine what these challenges are like and how long they last and that is what this research had at its heart. Consultant or academic reports are not going to change the lives of these residents; listening to their stories and their challenges and acting upon these is more likely to bring about this change.

Download the full case study

For further information on the project or to work with us in one of a variety of ways, please contact the SWM team at enquiries@swm.org.uk

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