IEMA recently hosted a webinar with Mike Nicholas from the Environment Agency to talk through the recently updated approach to adaptation in environmental regulation of industry. Here, Kay Johnstone, Senior Advisor at the Environment Agency and IEMA climate change and energy steering group member, sets out the key points of the presentation.

I was pleased to be able to invite my colleague Mike Nicholas to deliver this webinar on how the Environment Agency is supporting the businesses we regulate to adapt to climate change.

In 2021, the Climate Change Committee published evidence to underpin the UK’s climate change risk assessment. They identified that ‘despite the improving quality of risk assessments and approaches to assessing physical risk, there is still a lack of evidence of businesses acting to reduce the risks, including for low-likelihood, high-impact, indirect risks, and interdependencies.’

As a regulator our role is to protect local communities and the environment from the impacts of accidents, incidents, and permit breaches. We recognise that climate change increases these risks and that socially vulnerable groups will be the ones most severely affected, along with wildlife that is already suffering from habitat loss and reduced biodiversity. Climate change could cause tipping points or thresholds to be reached both for people and for the environment. Non-compliance on regulated activities further amplifies these risks and accelerates the rate at which local thresholds could be reached.

Management systems are an effective route to integrate climate adaptation into business policies, processes, governance, training, and decision-making. For those businesses regulated under the Environmental Permitting Regime, climate adaptation is included as part of an assessment of permit compliance. We have provided some sector specific examples of some of the common risks associated with climate change, which provide a useful starting point.

We also recognise that there are other compliance requirements we do not regulate, which also need to consider climate change adaptation (land use planning and financial disclosure for example) and we are working across government and with other regulators to ensure we take a consistent approach which can be adopted to meet all regulatory needs.

Click here to watch the webinar again and click here to access the slides.

IEMA regularly hosts webinars and workshops at which members can hear directly from regulators and reporting experts, and have the opportunity to ask questions. Click here to book your place at future events.

Photo of
Kay Johnstone

Climate Adaptation Adviser, Environment Agency


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