Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by the UK Climate Impacts Programme (UKCIP) (U7)


  1.  The UK Climate Impacts Programme (UKCIP) would like to inform the Committee of our interest in the "Climate Change: Looking Forward" inquiry. UKCIP is concerned that the issue of adapting to the impacts of climate change should not be overshadowed by the more obvious agenda of mitigating the causes of climate change.


  2.  Through this document UKCIP would like to offer itself as a source of information for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee inquiry "Climate Change: Looking Forward", as we did for an earlier inquiry into climate change and water security.

  3.  The UK Climate Impacts Programme was established by government in 1997 and is fully funded by Defra. We help organisations assess how they might be affected by climate change, so they can prepare for its impacts. We co-ordinate and integrate stakeholder-led assessments of climate change impacts at a regional and national level, and provide tools (such as the UKCIP02 climate change scenarios and a risk, uncertainty and decision making framework) and guidance throughout the process of understanding the impacts and developing adaptation strategies to manage those impacts. Within the UKCIP framework, regional scoping studies on climate change impacts have been undertaken for all parts of the UK, and regional climate change partnerships have been established. A number of sectoral studies have been undertaken, and we have started to develop adaptation networks with local authorities and with business. Further information on the UKCIP tools and studies is available from our website (


  4.  The changes in the climate that happen in the next 30 to 40 years have already been determined by greenhouse gases emitted before today, and many actors in society must plan to adapt to those changes, while we also need to reduce our emissions to limit the changes that will occur in the second half of this century and beyond. Mitigation and adaptation are not alternative courses of action; they address different aspects of the climate change issue and both are necessary. While much attention has been focused on reducing the emissions of the greenhouse gases that cause climate change, adapting to the changes caused is another necessary response. UKCIP is keen that the need to adapt is not overshadowed by the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, UKCIP sees opportunities for these two responses to climate change to reinforce each other.


  5.  The tenth (and last) of the recently announced terms of reference of the review of the UK Climate Change Programme is "to assess the UK's response at national, regional and local level to adapting to the impacts of climate change". Adaptation is harder to quantify than mitigation so that assessing progress towards an acceptable level of adaptation at a national scale is still difficult. UKCIP is interested in being involved in the debate about how this might be addressed.

  6.  UKCIP would be very pleased to assist with the climate change impacts and adaptation aspects of your inquiry, and hopes these comments are helpful. We look forward to hearing from you, and to providing you with further details on the above in due course.

29 September 2004

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