Bold steps had been hoped-for with the UK government’s third National Adaptation Programme (NAP3) released on 17 July, a much-anticipated prospectus intended to set out key actions to boost resilience and provide protection against risks associated with climate change, such as flooding, drought and heatwaves.
It wasn’t clear it had satisfied observers’ expectations, although the IMechE thought it was “a step in the right direction”. The Climate Change Committee (CCC) was more obviously frustrated it didn’t go further.
Notable commitments include plans to pilot “a dedicated Local Authority Climate Service which will provide easy access to localised climate data.”
“This Met Office tool will help local authorities plan adaptation by informing them about hazards such as increased heavy rainfall patterns and extreme heat.”
The document – which sets out plans for the timeframe 2023 to 2028 – also promises to boost support to vulnerable communities overseas, and triple adaptation funding through official development assistance to £1.5 billion by 2025. “This is the first time ever a domestic programme of this type will have a dedicated response to overseas climate risks, including supporting climate vulnerable communities globally.”
To help stay ahead of future threats, “a new £15 million joint research initiative led by Defra and UKRI will equip researchers, policy-makers, and practitioners with vital data, skills, and incentives they need to ensure proactive adaptation is happening across all areas of government policy.”
The programme also commits to setting-up a senior government officials Climate Resilience Board to oversee cross-cutting climate adaptation and resilience issues across government, including preparations for heatwaves, flooding and drought, “driving further action to increase UK resilience to climate change.”
Responding to the document, the CCC’s chair Baroness Brown said: “This is progress on previous plans, but we are disappointed that the Government hasn’t used this opportunity to go further to build the UK’s resilience to climate change. In another summer of gruelling hot temperatures, water shortages and wildfires, it’s hard to make sense of that decision. We are at the stage where promising further action is not enough.
“I nevertheless welcome Defra’s willingness to respond to our advice. It acknowledges every climate risk we cited in our most recent assessment. Sadly, this is not a plan containing extensive new commitments. The argument for a stronger response has not been won across government. I urge Ministers to build on this with much greater ambition. The scale of the climate impacts we are seeing make clear that resilience to climate change should be a much greater national priority.”
Dr Laura Kent, Public Affairs and Policy Advisor at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers said she was “pleased with the establishment of a new coordinating body within the Cabinet Office and the collaborative efforts with the Met Office to enhance accessibility to climate data.”
“This is a vital move to effectively plan and retrofit our building stock as well as a wide range of vital infrastructure assets, to ensure their resilience to future higher temperatures and increasingly frequent, prolonged and severe heatwaves. The time for action is now, and we must swiftly implement comprehensive strategies across a wide range of sectors to safeguard lives, livelihoods, and productivity.”
The IMechE has previously published a report on ‘Adapting Industry to Withstand Rising Temperatures and Future Heatwaves’.
The Government says it will also incorporate climate resilience into industrial and security strategies to protect the country’s energy sector, safeguarding the provision of goods and services from climate-related disruption.