The government’s plans for adapting the UK to the effects of climate change have been labelled “deeply disappointing” by critics.
Ministers have said that the schemes laid out in the 140-page report will help boost the UK’s resilience to extreme weather and outline how to protect people, homes and businesses from events such as heatwaves, droughts and floods.
But critics, among them Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, have said that the plans “really lack in ambition”.
Another policy expert told Sky News that the proposals were “a bit more like a government spinning its wheels rather than hitting the accelerator”.
The latest National Adaptation Programme – known as NAP3 – had been expected to be published on Tuesday. But it was released on Monday following a leak to The Guardian newspaper.
The 140-page document offers a five-year plan that ministers said would boost resilience and help protect people from the damaging impacts of climate change.
It comes after the Climate Change Committee, which advises and monitors government progress on the issue, warned that ministers had not made enough progress in adapting to rising global temperatures.
Government strategy says all the right things, but experts say it lacks urgency
The government strategy says all the right things.
It is calling for the right kind of strategies and programmes – new research for adaptation, spending money on getting local authorities talking to one another, health alert systems.
But what analysis looking through the details of the government’s plan today are already saying is that a lot of these things have already been announced, and that it also lacks the urgency in clear timetabled deadlines that we need to meet.
A bit more like a government spinning its wheels rather than hitting the accelerator, one policy expert said to me, which is what we need given the speed of the climate change that is coming to us.
We are at 1.5C of warming right now, we are heading towards 2C plus.
What we don’t invest and deal with now and in the not too distant future, we are just passing on much bigger costs, and much more damage, to the next government, future governments and society.
Environment Secretary Therese Coffey, in a foreword to the report, said the programme would be a “step change in our approach to managing the risks of climate change, moving us from planning to action”.
The report highlighted a pilot for a dedicated climate data tool to help councils plan and adapt to local challenges.
According to the document, the Department for Education will carry out annual climate risk assessments from this year to “identify the highest-risk settings and provide guidance on how to reduce the risk”.
The department will also “prioritise nature-based solutions” to issues such as flooding and overheating in education settings by 2025, including rain garden drainage systems and natural shading for outdoor spaces.
According to the plan, the Ministry of Justice will research the impact of climate change on staff and prisoner behaviour, while Defra will investigate local nature recovery strategies.
Ms Lucas, the former leader of the Green Party, said many of the plans in the documents were “pre-announced about two years ago” and are “being recycled now.”
“We’ve got the government talking about doing research to work out why and how buildings overheat instead of actually putting in place the measures to address it,” she told Channel 4 News.
Emma Howard Boyd, chair of the London Climate Resilience Review, said the programme “should be a wake-up call and yet it seems they are taking a nap”.
“NAP3 won’t convince anyone that we are ready and that is a dangerous, missed opportunity,” she said.
Linda Taylor, environment spokeswoman for the Local Government Association, said some aspects were positive but warned that the plan “does not deliver the overall funding and support necessary to enable urgent acceleration of local adaptation action”.