What is the UK’s National Adaptation Programme and are we ready for climate change?

28 Sep 2023
4 min read
Hands holding our green Earth planet

In July 2023, the Government released their National Adaptation Programme. It’s a plan to explain how the government will protect infrastructure, people and food production in a warming world full of extreme weather events.

It should also detail how this country will react to the ongoing ways in which climate change is affecting all aspects of life in the UK from farming to business and everything in between.

Is enough being done?

“The scale of the climate impacts we are seeing make clear that resilience to climate change should be a much greater national priority.”

Dame Julia King, Chair of the Adaptation Committee of the CCC

But having read the report, this country desperately needs lots of measures and ways to tackle the impacts of climate change. Prof Dame Julia King Chair of the Adaptation Committee of the CCC (Climate Change Committee), said “The scale of the climate impacts we are seeing make clear that resilience to climate change should be a much greater national priority.”

Heat endangers life

Thermometer showing temperature over 40 degrees celsius

One of the ideas of the plan is to do research on how homes and workplaces overheat. Excessive exposure to heat endangers human life; 61,672 people died from heat related conditions in Europe between May and September in 2022.

In particular the elderly, disabled, pregnant women and very young are vulnerable when the mercury rises as less able to regulate and cool their core temperature. Already one in five homes overheat in the UK and that number is set to increase to one in three as summers of 40C heat are likely to occur every other summer in the medium term.

Action is clearly needed to protect people from heat stress at home and in work.

National alert system

Cars in flood water

The plan pledges to protect lives and wellbeing across the UK by building on the National Alert system that was trialled in April using our mobile phones, but it doesn’t tell us what that will look like or when it will be rolled out.

It says it will establish a “Climate Resilience Board” to oversee Adaptation and resilience and help us prepare for heatwaves, flooding and drought but there’s no bricks and mortar plan on how that’s going to happen or what it will look like or when it will happen or who will be on the board.

Moving in the right direction?

Aeroplane flying through smoke from wild fires

In essence the Adaptation Plan suggests the government know they need to act but as the saying goes, the devil is in the detail and that’s what this report is lacking. We know climate change is devastatingly bad news for our country and our world already.

We only need to look at recent wildfires and heatwaves in mainland Europe to see how bad things are but unfortunately the impacts are going to get worse.

A new normal or are things still changing?

Until global emissions stop, we know things are only going to get worse.

The pollution caused from burning of fossil fuels is directly responsible for global warming and the increasingly extreme weather we’re seeing. Yet global emissions of greenhouse gases are still going up.

There’s talk of these extreme summers being a “new normal” but they’re not, they’re the beginning of something but we have no idea what the end looks like. China’s Xinjiang region recorded a temperature of 52.2 degrees Celsius in June. Until global emissions stop, we know things are only going to get worse.

ITV created this video ‘the summer that predicted the future’ from their news reporters this summer. It’s very powerful:

It’s not too late to act

The government needs to flesh out their Adaptation plan with concrete ways we can safeguard our shores against the inevitable to protect lives and livelihoods going forward.

This is increasingly essential as recently, Professor Sir Bob Watson former head of the UN climate body,  said of a global commitment to limit warming to ‘safe’ levels “I think 1.5 Celsius is probably out of reach even if we accelerate quickly now”. In fact he said, “I’m very pessimistic about achieving even 2C”.

What this means is that impacts will be greater than first feared so we have to adapt to changes and become more resilient to weather the stormy weather ahead at work, at home and in our communities.

To find out about how you can adapt your home to floods and heatwaves visit One Home’s adaptation section.


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