Federal Coordinating Lead Author:
David Reidmiller, U.S. Global Change Research Program
Lead Author:
Katherine Weingartner, U.S. Global Change Research Program/ICF (through September 2017)
Contributing Authors:
Apurva Dave, U.S. Global Change Research Program/ICF

Looking Abroad: How Other Nations Approach a National Climate Assessment

Overview

The government of the United Kingdom (UK) is legally required to produce a Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA) every five years and then develop National Adaptation Programmes to address those risks and build resilience to climate change. The core component of the CCRA is an independently produced Evidence Report that assesses climate risks and impacts in the UK. The Evidence Report feeds into a high-level Synthesis Report that identifies key areas of climate risk to be prioritized for action. The government evaluates this Synthesis Report and produces its final Risk Assessment, which is presented to Parliament. The most recent Evidence Report was developed using a risk-based framing and explicitly considers the international dimensions of climate impacts to the UK.

Assessment Mandate and Objectives

The 2008 Climate Change Act requires the UK government to present a CCRA to Parliament every five years. The purpose of the assessment is to evaluate the risks that current and predicted climate change impacts pose to the UK and, ultimately, to guide the development of National Adaptation Programmes for the UK and its component countries (the administrations of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales).

Assessment Process

Under the 2008 Climate Change Act, two CCRAs have been completed, one in 2012 and the most recent in 2017. The Act establishes an independent body, the Committee on Climate Change, whose Adaptation Sub-Committee (ASC) was responsible for the CCRA Evidence Report and Synthesis Report in 2017. The Evidence Report summarizes the current state of knowledge of climate risks and opportunities in the UK and identifies priority areas needing urgent further action over the next five years. For the most recent Evidence Report, the ASC convened teams of experts to assess a wide range of climate risks and opportunities and assign urgency scores to inform national adaptation planning. The analysis was supplemented by several specially commissioned research studies on specific climate impacts and was informed by engagement with and review by stakeholders inside and outside of the government and across all four UK countries. The Synthesis Report, authored by the ASC, summarizes the Evidence Report and then identifies six areas of risk to be managed as priorities for the next five years. For the most recent CCRA, the government largely approved the conclusions from the various products of the ASC, which it produced in its final UK Climate Change Risk Assessment 2017.

Assessment Content Structure

The most recent Evidence Report includes multiple individual products. The main report is an independent analysis authored by academics, consultants, and other experts in the public and private sectors, as well as civil society organizations throughout the UK. It reviews evidence for current and future climate change in the UK, provides a description of the assessment methodology, and includes technical chapters focused on specific sectors. Separate national summaries, authored by the ASC, present evidence specific to Scotland, England, Northern Ireland, and Wales.

International Dimensions

The CCRA Evidence Report has expanded since its inception to examine impacts at increasingly wider scales, both across sectors and geographically. While the focus of the first report was on a limited set of direct impacts within the UK, the most recent CCRA also considers the impacts on the UK from international effects, both direct (for example, through disruption of trade and supply chains) and indirect (for example, through price volatility of imported commodities). These topics are explored in a dedicated international dimensions chapter.


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