Climate Policy Dashboard analysis shows Government policy progress for adaptation is ‘insufficient/on the way’ and gives recommendations for the path to action-oriented climate policy

Policy Connect’s Climate Policy Dashboard gives its new Adaptation Sector a score of 4/10. Along with mitigation, adaptation is a significant element in reaching the UK’s 2050 net zero target. While 7 out of 34 adaptation priority areas have good policies in place to deliver the CCC’s targets, it is important that further progress is made before COP26 in November this year and beyond.

Adaptation covers the process of planning and developing measures to cope with current and future impacts of climate change, and was recently the focus of the Climate Change Committee’s progress report on adaptation and its Independent Assessment of UK Climate Risk. The Dashboard now charts the government's progress in developing domestic policy both across key sectors in reducing emissions and in ensuring climate resilience.

The UK will need to adapt to a range of climate impacts in the future, especially as climate impacts will occur even if warming is kept to the Paris Agreement goal of 1.5°C. With record-breaking temperatures, recent flash floods and increasing rainfall in the UK, it is right that adaptation receives the attention, funding and policy development currently given to mitigating climate change. As Chair of the CCC’s Adaptation Committee, Baroness Brown states, adaptation is currently the “Cinderella” of climate change, “under-resourced, underfunded and often ignored”.

The UK does not yet have a coherent vision or the sufficient policy frameworks for successful adaptation to climate change. There are also no measurable targets to assess progress against climate risk. As the CCC notes, this undermines adaptation goals, locks in climate risks, and stores up costs for the future.

For progress to be made in adaptation and to ensure a climate resilient UK, the Government should:

  • Set a clear vision for a well-prepared and resilient UK in response to climate risk, and back this vision with measured targets to embed adaptation in policies across the natural environment, planning, infrastructure, homes, and transport.
  • Implement a public engagement programme about national adaptation objectives, acceptable levels of risk, and desired resilience standards.
  • Implement a strong set of enforced standards that ensure both new and existing buildings are designed for a changing climate.
  • The forthcoming Net Zero Strategy should ensure that net zero and adaptation are considered together.
  • The forthcoming third National Adaptation Programme, which runs from 2023-2028, must be more ambitious, more comprehensive, and better focused on implementation than the previous NAPs.

In the Adaptation Sector, the Dashboard will track both the design of policy (the quality of adaptation plans in place), and the implementation of policy (the progress in managing risk in the real world) for each of the thirty-four adaptation priority areas identified by the Climate Change Committee. We will update the former metric as new policy announcements on adaptation are published and update the latter metric with the latest data from the CCC. The 34 adaptation priorities cover areas such as the natural environment, flooding, overheating, and water usage.

Of the 34 adaptation priorities areas, only seven have good policy documents in place to address potential climate impacts, only five have shown notable progress in the past two years, and no sector is yet scoring highly in lowering its level of risk. Implementation of adaptation frameworks is still lacking, and there are no adaptation priority areas making good progress in managing climate risk.

The overall average progress score of the adaptation priority areas is currently ranked 4/10 which is insufficient/on the way to world leading adaptation policy.

The Adaptation Sector will also provide an overview of thirty-three short and long-term policy recommendations from the Climate Change Committee. The Dashboard will begin to track progress on these recommendations as the Government responds to the CCC’s progress report on adaptation in October.