Resilience to Climate Change: Who Pays (and Who Benefits)?
A knowledge-exchange event at the RGS-IBG in London on 17th November will explore the question of ‘who pays?’ to deliver adaptation to climate change in the UK, and with this, community resilience. Coming a week before the Spending Review, which will be announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 25th November, this event will consider not only who should pay in financial terms to deliver climate change adaptation, in an age of austerity, but who will pay socially through a failure to adapt – or even through measures deemed necessary to adapt.
In 2012, the first UK Climate Change Risk Assessment identified that climate change could have significant implications for the health and wellbeing of the population of the UK. Wetter, milder winters and hotter, drier summers will become the norm. Direct risks to health include increased flooding and heat. Impacts on business through flooding, for example, affecting supply chains and productivity, on water and energy supply and demand or on the built environment and infrastructure, all have implications for the wellbeing of communities and individuals. The most vulnerable communities stand to be worst affected – those least able to withstand further pressures from extreme weather events, for example, and demonstrating the least capacity to ‘bounce back’ from these shocks.
Objective 13 of the National Adaptation Programme, launched in July 2013, commits the UK Government to ‘minimise the impact of climate change on vulnerable groups in society by strengthening their resilience to better prepare for, respond to and recover from future climate risk.’ Other objectives highlight the importance of promoting community resilience to severe weather related events through preparation, response and recovery.
Yet, in the nearly four years since the first Climate Change Risk Assessment and the two years since the launch of the National Adaptation Programme, how well have these objectives been taken forward. Are communities any more resilient to climate change than they were? Whose responsibility is it to deliver this resilience?
The follow-up to the first (2012) Climate Change Risk Assessment is due in January 2017. The first draft of the independent evidence report on the risks and opportunities to the UK from climate change, which will inform the final Climate Change Risk Assessment is nearing completion.
What will the second Climate Change Risk Assessment conclude about the severity of the risks facing the UK? If these have increased in magnitude and urgency, the actions proposed in the National Adaptation Programme may not go far enough to address these, with further measures therefore required. Who will help communities, and the UK as a whole, to adapt, to avoid paying a large social (and financial) cost of a failure to do so?
These and other questions will be explored by our expert panel at the RGS-IBG seminar in London in November.
Image: Flooding at the head of Loch Tay. Copyright: nz_willowherb