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UK Climate Change Adaptation Policy

Climate Change Act 2008

The Climate Change Act 2008 establishes a legally–binding framework for the UK Government to address and combat climate change.

The Climate Change Act commits the UK Government by law to:

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 100% of 1990 levels (net zero) by 2050. This includes reducing emissions from the devolved administrations (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland).
  • Set legally–binding ‘carbon budgets’ to act as steeping stones towards the 2050 target. A carbon budget is a cap on the amount of greenhouse gases emitted in the UK over a five–year period.
  • Set up an independent expert body, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) to advise the government and devolved administrations on emissions targets, and addressing and preparing for climate change. It reports to Parliament on progress made and also publishes independent analysis on climate science, policy, and economics.
  • Assess the risks and opportunities from climate change by producing a UK Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA) every five years.
  • UK administrations – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are all required to produce a National Adaptation Programme (NAP) every five years, setting out their objectives, proposals and policies in response to the risks and opportunities identified in the CCRA.

Committee on Climate Change: Adaptation Sub Committee

Under the Climate Change Act 2008, the Adaptation Sub Committee (ASC) of the CCC was established. The ASC provides expert independent advice on the preparation of the UK–wide Climate Change Risk Assessment, report to Parliament on the progress in the implementation of the national adaptation programme, and to advise the devolved administrations as required.

UK Climate Change Risk Assessment

The Climate Change Acts 2008 requires the UK government to publish and provide Parliament with a UK–wide climate change risk assessment (CCRA) every five years. The assessment presents an analysis of key climate change risks and opportunities across all sectors of the UK economy. The first CCRA was published by Defra in 2012. 

The current CCRA which was published in 2017, Defra commissioned the Adaptation Sub–Committee to prepare an independent UK Climate Change Risk Assessment 2017 Evidence Report. This report sets out the latest evidence on the risks and opportunities to the UK from climate change. The UK government report endorses the six priority areas identified by the Evidence Report. 

Published Risk Assessments:









The CCRA includes: