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More floods, droughts and heatwaves: a future to prepare for...

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July 2016 saw the publication of the evidence report for the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment 2017 (CCRA2017) by the Adaptation Sub-Committee (ASC) of the Committee on Climate Change.  Their report provides an independent assessment of the risks and opportunities of climate change for the UK and identifies where Government should take urgent action.

You can see the results yourself in the ASC’s highly readable synthesis report, or if that feels too big a read, why not check out the 2-minute video and 2-page factsheets first? Or even easier, why not pop down and see us at the Innovation fair (7 September) and we can give you a guided tour of the bits that will interest you?

The publication of the report is a significant milestone for us working in Defra – a risk assessment has to take place every five years as a requirement of the Climate Change Act 2008. The ASC’s report will inform the report that we lay in Parliament in January next year and the subsequent development of the National Adaptation Programme around 2018.

So, what does the report tell us? The ASC highlights six areas where there is the potential for climate change impacts to be very large and where so far there could be more done to manage these risks. These are related to;

  • risks of flooding and coastal change
  • the impact of high temperatures on health and wellbeing
  • risks to natural capital
  • risks of future water shortages
  • impacts on the global food system
  • risks arising from new and emerging pests and diseases.

Interestingly, five of these areas for priority action are Defra responsibilities, cutting across most of the work of the department. This means that the 25 Year Environment Plan and further policy development and implementation stemming from it could provide an important backbone for future government actions to manage the impacts of climate change on the environment and natural capital.

The effort that has gone into the preparation of the ASC’s evidence report has been amazing and there is interest from around the world in replicating the methodology it has used. Over 80 leading academics contributed to the assessment, gathering and analysing scientific and socio-economic evidence on nearly 60 climate change risks and opportunities. Over 50 colleagues throughout the Defra network and across Whitehall have engaged in the three-year project - if that includes you, then thank you very much!

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