​Climate Change Adaptation in the UK

The UK’s Climate Change Act 2008 provides a legal framework to ensure that the Government meets its commitments to reducing emissions, assesses the UK’s risks from climate change, and prepares a strategy to address them.

The Climate Change Act

The UK’s Climate Change Act was passed in 2008 and established a framework to develop an economically credible emissions reduction path. It also:

  • introduced legally binding carbon budgets,
  • set up the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) as an independent body as well as the Adaptation Sub Committee (ASC) and,
  • requires a National Adaptation Plan to respond to the UK’s risks from climate change.

Committee on Climate Change

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) was set up under the Climate Change Act to advise the Government on emissions targets, to report to Parliament on progress made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and provide advice to the Devolved Administrations on climate change.

Following the adoption of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act in August 2009, the Committee were asked to advise Scottish Minsters on issues relating to the climate change targets in the Act.

The Adaptation Sub-Committee

The Adaptation Sub-Committee (ASC) was set by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) to provide expert advice and scrutiny of the Government's programme for adaptation in order to help prepare the UK for the impacts of climate change. The ASC, through the CCC, will ensure that the Government’s programme for adaptation enables the UK to prepare effectively for the impacts of climate change. In the event of a Scottish climate change advisory body being established, this function would revert to the Scottish body.

The UK Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA)

Every five years the UK Government must carry out an assessment of the current and future risks to the country from climate change. This assessment is known as the Climate Change Risk Assessment or the CCRA. The first CCRA was published in January 2012, with the second released January 2017 which presents the latest evidence on the threats and opportunities of climate change for the UK to the end of the century. The CCRA consists of a number of reports, including a synthesis report, a number of technical chapters and a national summary for Scotland.

The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution

In March 2010 the Royal Commission published a report on Adapting Institutions to Climate Change. It identified that there was an ‘urgent need to understand how UK institutions should adapt to climate change and initiate actions to build adaptive capacity’. The report explores the challenges facing institutions in adapting to climate change and presents a list of ten questions which organisations – in both the public and private sectors – might use to start consideration of the need for adaptation.

UK Climate Change Risk Assessment

​Climate Change Adaptation at the international level

At COP 21 in Paris, Parties to the UNFCCC reached a landmark agreement to combat…