Climate adaptation reporting should be mandatory, advisers say

3rd April 2017

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  • Adaptation ,
  • Business & Industry ,
  • Agriculture ,
  • Energy


Brendan Mc Lean

Almost one-quarter of organisations asked to report on how they are adapting to climate change did not do so, according to government advisers the Committee on Climate Change (CCC).

It wants reporting to be made mandatory. The committee made the recommendation after analysing the second round of reports submitted by organisations covered by the Adaptation Reporting Power (ARP) of the Climate Change Act 2008.

The power covers water and energy companies, national parks, road and rail companies, airport operators and regulatory bodies.

The reports detail the current and future effects of climate change on organisations and how the organisation plans to adapt. They must also include a progress report of actions previously announced.

The first round of reporting (ARP1) between 2009 and 2012 was mandatory for most organisations, but round two (ARP2), between 2013 and 2016, was not and some organisations declined to participate. In total, 21 out of 114 organisations did not respond to ARP2, while a further seven did not report, but may still do so.

The voluntary nature of round two may have also affected the quality of the reports that were submitted, the CCC said in its report.

Electricity generators, transmitters and distributors were the only sectors to fully report in round two. Most of the organisations that did not participate in round two said they did not have sufficient resources or that the ARP overlapped with other reporting requirements.

The third round of reporting, due to take place next year, should be mandatory, the committee concluded. The cross-party Environmental Audit Committee came to the same conclusion when it scrutinised progress on climate adaptation reporting in 2015.

In a letter to Defra, Daniel Johns, head of adaptation at the CCC, wrote that doing so would not only ensure that all relevant organisations were involved, but that senior executives are routinely engaged in the process.

Most reports submitted under ARP2 contained only qualitative information, the CCC said. Almost 40% of water companies and more than 30% of road and rail companies supplied quantitative data on climate change risks, but most other sectors did not quantify specific risks.

Even where reports did provide some quantification, it was difficult to gauge the scale of the risk compared to other pressures the organisations might face in the normal course of business, the CCC noted.

The committee also found a lack of detail on the timing and costs of climate adaptation actions. It noted that the water and energy sectors appeared to have the best planning and monitoring, which it believed could be down to the fact that these sectors had been active on climate change adaptation for a long time.

Planning by airports, ports and national parks was in general not as well developed, it said, adding that the quality of their blueprints had not improve between reporting rounds.

It advised Defra to review and improve its guidance for the next round of reporting to ensure results and conclusions are more uniform, meaningful and quantified. The department should also reduce the burden of reporting for those organisations conducting similar reports as part of other processes, the CCC added.

Seven Trent Water and Network Rail were singled out by the CCC for displaying good practice in their risk assessments.

The committee also recommended that Defra widen the scope of reporting for the next round. It highlighted in particular internet and mobile network operators, parts of the financial services sector and local authorities. Health and social care organisations could also be considered for reporting, it added.


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