Summary and implications

The Government requested that the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs ("DEFRA") put together an Official Report on UK Climate Change. DEFRA's report, published on 18 June 2009, 'The UK Climate Projections' (the "Report") contains information on current and future climate change. The Report forms the basis for the Government's 5 Point Plan (the "Plan"):

To read the report, click here

  • the Report shows that reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the UK is the only way to reduce the most dangerous effects of climate change.
  • the Report also demonstrates how simple actions will reduce the cost for the UK with regards to climate change.
  • the Report indicates that the UK is committed to taking positive steps to combating climate change by reducing emissions and this is reflected in the Plan.

The aim of the Plan

Following on from the Report government ministers are now outlining a 5 Point Plan. The aim of the Plan is to reduce emissions in the UK and abroad and to prepare for the changes that are inevitable.

The Plan seeks to achieve the following: protecting the public from immediate risk; preparing for the future; limiting the severity of future climate change through a new international climate change agreement; building a low carbon UK; and supporting business, individuals and communities to play their part.

Protecting the public from immediate risk

The recent flooding across various areas of England, the heat waves that we have experienced during the summer and the increased rate of costal erosion suggest that as a nation we are already feeling the effects of climate change.

Preparing for the future

Climate change is inevitable simply because we were not previously aware of the effect that CO2 emissions would have. The Report provided by DEFRA will play a role in reducing emissions today and preparing for the future. Certain public services will now be expected to make an assessment of climate change and the risks resulting from it. It is also reported that the Government will be producing Adaptation Plans for April 2010. This reflects positive steps towards factoring in climate change and the potential risks that arise from it into the decision making process.

Limiting the severity of future climate change through a new international climate change agreement

This December, the Government will lead discussions in Copenhagen at the Climate Change Conference regarding climate change and what is needed to be done to reverse the global temperature increase. The aim is to make sure that global emissions fall to at least 50% of the 1990 level by 2050.

Building a low carbon UK

The Climate Change Act 2008 highlights Britain's commitment to low carbon. The UK is planning on cutting emissions to 34% by 2020 and 80% by 2050. These targets will be achieved by more investment into energy efficiency such as promoting Low Carbon Zones and the development of more renewable energy.

Supporting business, individuals and communities to play their part

The Government will produce a range of support programmes for individuals, businesses and communities. These support programmes will assist with the reduction of emissions.

Further steps by the government

There are a range of initiatives that the Government has put in place to tackle climate change and reduce its impact. These initiatives seek to facilitate the Plan and include, amongst others, the following:

  • The Blackpool Sea Front Regeneration: The aim of this project is two fold:
    • to improve Blackpool's coastal defences and protect businesses and homes; and
    • to create a regeneration plan to make the Blackpool Sea Front an attractive public area.
  • Transport: Currently the Government have introduced new road surface specification as well as an improved drainage standard for new works and renewal work. The idea behind this is to improve drainage and protect roads from the predicted increase in rainfall. This will also mean that the road infrastructure will be stronger in the face of climate change.
  • There are also further plans to improve infrastructure focusing on transport, water and energy sectors. This will see different departments and sectors working together for a common goal.
  • Government Estate: it is reported that DEFRA is working closely with the Government to ensure that all departments will improve their estate in the face of climate change.