Certified B Corporation Badge


Is the UK maladapting?

28 July, 2023

The UK recently published its Third National Adaptation Strategy, setting out what the government considers to be a ‘step change’ in its approach to climate adaptation.

The importance of an adaptation strategy can’t be understated. In principle, it should set out how the country and critical sectors within it will successfully adapt in the face of a drastically changing environment. This should be viewed as being of equal importance to the UK’s net zero strategy – one is about prevention and the other about learning to live on a warming planet. But in practice, adaptation is often viewed as the forgotten child of climate change – and the lack of attention the UK’s new strategy has garnered goes some way to supporting that opinion.

In March this year, the UK Climate Change Committee (CCC) – a committee set up to monitor progress towards climate-related targets and present findings to Parliament – released a progress report on the UK’s progress towards adaptation targets in 2022. The CCC concluded adaptation measures are not being implemented at the scale needed to fully prepare for climate risks facing the UK across cities, communities, infrastructure, economy and ecosystems.

The UK’s recently launched Adaptation Strategy was an opportunity to directly address some of the concerns raised. Early reactions to the strategy indicate that it doesn’t move the dial anywhere near enough. For example, the strategy gives a nod to growing areas of concern such as heatwaves and poorly insulated building stock, but rather than outlining immediate priority actions, the strategy sets out another five-year plan to review the issue. The scale of the task ahead shouldn’t be underestimated. These aren’t all quick fixes and the strategy estimates that adaptation financing requirements could be as much as £10 billion per year to address the risks and opportunities posed by climate change.

As with all plans, the proof will be in its successful implementation. But the buck cannot keep being moved to the next reporting phase; urgent action is needed now.

By Budd Nicholson

You might also like