Simply Sustainable

National Adaptation Programme: a must-read for business

Climate change is arguably the most serious environmental challenge that we face. The heatwave that recently hit Britain, followed by the Environmental Audit Committee’s announcement that severe temperatures will cause 7000 deaths a year by 2050, highlighted the need to take urgent steps to adapt to a changing climate.

In the fight against climate change, the UK has a range of initiatives that aim to safeguard the wellbeing of present and future generations. For example, every five years the Government develops a National Adaptation Programme (NAP) that sets out an ambitious five-year strategy to reduce the country’s vulnerability to the evolving impacts of climate change. The National Adaptation Programme 2018-2023, published last month, establishes a set of challenging targets to ensure the climate-readiness of the country.

The Plan is divided into chapters covering risks and opportunities for:

  • Built environment
  • Infrastructure
  • Healthy and resilient communities
  • Agriculture and forestry
  • Natural environment
  • Business and local government

The NAP is linked to the goals of the Clean Growth strategy, 25 Environment Plan, Industrial Strategy and the report by the Green Finance Taskforce.

Although the UK Committee on Climate Change has described it as a “partial document”, particularly as it fails to address all 56 risks identified in the 2016 “Evidence Report on Climate Change Risk”, the plan sends a strong message about the need to manage climate change risks.

Top six areas of inter-related climate change risks for the UK.
Source: CCC Risk Assessment 2016

The document includes a section specifically aimed at the risks (mainly flooding and extreme weather events such as drought) and opportunities that climate change poses to business and industry around:

  • Supply chain: the risk of weather-related operations disruption within national and international supply chains is critical, particularly for those involving vulnerable countries. For instance, retailers and foodservice operators are predicted to face import shortfalls, whereas a water-intensive business may need to consider locations which are less subject to droughts.
  • The loss in productivity: Higher temperatures and infrastructure disruption are expected to cause a loss in productivity, particularly reduced employee productivity due to high temperatures in working environments. The risk is particularly critical for a business employing staff working outdoors.
  • Access to capital and changing demand for goods and services: natural capital accounting and climate-related financial disclosure will become more relevant, as well as the need to meet demand and supply for green products and services. Implementing the recommendations of the Taskforce of Climate-Related Financial Disclosure will be particularly critical to satisfying increasing stakeholders’ demands around climate risk disclosure.

Probably only known to the insider, the National Adaptation Programme will impact the lives of everyone in the UK. In the near future, business will need to be prepared to face challenging policies to ensure the climate readiness of their operations and safeguard their supply chains and productivity, while meeting stakeholders changing demands for goods and services. In this respect, the NAP acts as a valuable framework to enable business to assess their climate change vulnerability and support them in developing robust climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies.

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