Public sector behind on climate adaptation

10th February 2016

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  • Adaptation ,
  • Mitigation ,
  • Reporting


Edidiong Akinyede

Three-quarters of public sector organisations have no plans for how they would deal with flooding and higher temperatures, according to the Carbon Trust.

Climate change adaptation plans are currently only mandatory for a select group of public sector organisations, such as those managing transport, energy and water infrastructure and those involved in protecting the natural environment.

The head of public sector at the trust, Tim Pryce, said that the results of its survey showed that the public sector was largely unprepared to meet climate change impacts, such as the effects of flooding on public services, transport and healthcare.

‘This fits with our own experience working with the public sector, which is only now starting to get to grips with what will need to be done to create stronger and more resilient communities in the UK,’ he said.

Pryce recommends that organisations undertake a full risk assessment, then use their powers as planners and service providers to minimise future disruption and costs.

The low number of organisations with climate change adaptation plans compares with 70% that have mitigation plans and 91% of organisations that claim to taking action on the issue, the poll found.

Respondents to the survey are optimistic that their actions have made a difference, with over half (56%) reporting an improvement in performance, and more than four in ten (44%) claiming higher levels of commitment in their organisations.

Finance remains one of the biggest obstacles to improving sustainability, with lack of budget (49%) or financing options (26%) as well as failure by internal budget holders to sign off on invest-to-save projects (20%) highlighted as some of most significant barriers by respondents.

When asked what would make the biggest difference to their ability to act on climate change, 72% wanted more support from central government. A bigger budget or more finance (64%), and stronger internal resources or expertise (35%) were the next most popular responses.

Pryce said: ‘Unfortunately, there are still far too many cost-effective energy efficiency projects that are not being implemented. What is needed is a greater level of investment into high quality projects. This can deliver a number of benefits, not least better quality and more efficient public services.’


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