Adaptation refers to actions that help increase capacity, or reduce the vulnerability and exposure of society and the natural environment to the impacts associated with climate change. It can also include actions to take advantage of new opportunities that climate change may bring. Adaptation is distinct from actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (known as mitigation). These reduce the future levels of ‘hazard’ by reducing the level of global temperature rise and broader climate change that will occur.
The UK Climate Change Act sets out a process for regularly identifying the climate risks and opportunities facing the UK, plus a requirement on Government to bring forward a policy programme to address the risks highlighted. The Act also requires the Climate Change Committee (CCC), the independent advisory body established under the Act to regularly provide independent assessments of progress in adapting to climate change in England.
The CCC monitor progress by assessing whether plans are in place or being developed to address the challenges identified by the UK’s climate change risk assessment, and by assessing how far current and planned actions will reduce exposure and vulnerability to those risks or to take advantage of opportunities. This briefing discusses the role of adaptation in the UK’s Climate Change Act, the CCC’s approach to monitoring progress in adapting to climate change and provides insights from its first twelve years of experience of measuring adaptation.
This briefing is structured in four sections:
- Adaptation within the UK Climate Change Act
- The CCC’s Adaptation Committee
- Monitoring progress on adaptation
- Challenges in assessing progress in adaptation