Adapting to Climate Change in the UK: Measuring Progress

Sebastian Catovsky, Emily Beynon, Sara Davies, Matthew Lipson, Clare Pinder, Kiran Sura, David Thompson and Adam Ward
Created: 7/13/2011 -


The Climate Change Act put in place a process for assessing and managing the risks and opportunities to the UK from climate change. The Act established the Adaptation Sub-Committee (ASC) of the Committee on Climate Change to provide independent and expert advice on how to assess climate risks and to report regularly on the UK’s progress in preparing for the future climate. This report provides our second assessment of the UK’s preparedness, following our first review in September 2010. We start to develop a set of indicators against which to assess and track the UK’s preparedness. We focus on three of the priority areas identified in our first report – land use planning, managing water resources, and designing and renovating buildings.

The headline messages are: The UK is coping with the current climate, but some sectors such as water supply are near their limits. Vulnerability to climate change is potentially increasing as a result of patterns of development in some areas and demographic trends such as the ageing population. There are low-regret actions that could be taken now to reduce vulnerability – for example measures to improve water efficiency, reduce damages to buildings from flooding, and protect buildings from overheating in summer. These measures would save householders money today. However, we found limited evidence of uptake of such measures, particularly in existing homes, reflecting barriers to action. This indicates the need for new policy approaches. Climate risks appear not to be fully incorporated into some major strategic decisions, such as land use planning and investment in water infrastructure. Embedding climate change more fully into decision-making could reduce future adaptation costs, such as building new flood defences and maintaining existing defences, and also ensure that climate risks are appropriately balanced against other risks and benefits.

Published On


Adaptation Phase
National / Federal
Sector Addressed
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy
Capacity Building
Invest in / Enhance emergency services planning and training
Increase / Improve public awareness, education, and outreach efforts
Conduct vulnerability assessments and studies
Infrastructure, Planning, and Development
Develop disaster preparedness plans and policies
Governance and Policy
Create new or enhance existing policies or regulations
Develop / implement adaptation plans

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