Changes to the fourth round of adaptation reporting

31st May 2023

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The Climate Change Act 2008 put in place the Adaptation Reporting Power (ARP), which has now been going for three rounds, in five-year cycles.

The fourth round is coming up and the government is consulting on whether to make changes to the reporting requirements.

Organisations are asked to report on how they manage climate risk. Reports cover the impacts of climate change on their organisation, how they intend to adapt and their progress on adaptation.

Initially the timings were not in line with the timetable for the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA), with the result that the CCRAs did not have access to all the latest evidence. Less than 5% of ARP reports in round three were received in time to inform the third CCRA. It seems likely that one of the changes will be an amendment of the timetable so that CCRAs will reflect the most up-to-date positions of the reporting organisations.

For the first round, it was mandatory to report, while, for the second and third rounds, it was not. The government is consulting on whether to make reporting mandatory rather than voluntary for the fourth and future rounds. It seems likely that it will, the evidence being that not all organisations will report when reporting is voluntary. This makes it impossible to know whether these organisations and the core infrastructure they run are adequately taking the need for adaptation into account as they plan. Given that these organisations are critical for the functioning of society, and with recent climate events proving that adaptation needs to be at the top of corporate agendas, it would be a shame to miss the opportunity to ensure comprehensive reporting. This would close any gaps, ensuring that no aspects of a sector are ill-prepared for the effects of climate change.

IEMA’s response to the consultation recommended some stakeholder mapping to identify interdependencies and to close gaps.

The consultation addressed the scope of reporting, and the IEMA recommendation was for regulators to report and therefore ensure that the smaller parts or operators within their sector and regulatory remit are within scope of oversight. Regulators have various duties and powers to enable adaptation across their sectors and could be reporting on how they’re using these and on the effect that they are having.

Overall, the primary objective for adaptation reporting should be to integrate climate change risk management into the work of reporting organisations. This will raise the overall standard of adaptation planning. IEMA Climate Change Adaptation Practitioner Guidance sets out a maturity matrix for adaptation planning and delivery.

It would be helpful to standardise the reporting format so that the reports are easy to read, understand and audit. If reports are mandatory and standardised, organisations will be better able to assess their interdependencies with other organisations and risk assess the potential for cascading failures. Such assessments can only be as robust as the weakest report in the system. Auditing is essential so that the quality of reports, as well as the delivery of actions identified in the reports, can be appraised in a transparent way.

IEMA is also hoping to see reporting designed in such a way as to complement other climate reporting requirements (such as those in line with the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures) to avoid duplication of work. Ideally, organisations will be able to draw upon a database of mitigation and adaptation information to fulfil their reporting requirements. This will minimise compliance burdens and make mandatory reporting more acceptable.

IEMA’s Climate Change and Energy steering group members held a workshop to discuss IEMA’s response to the consultation. See the website for full details.

Image credit: Shutterstock

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