Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the inertia of the climate system means that adaptation to new ‘normal’weather patterns is needed. Uncertainties in climate science means adaptation will be challenging, requiring an iterative approach. Considerable progress in adaptation has been made in the United Kingdom (UK), but some vulnerable groups are marginalised from this process. The nature of destitution in the UK means that official statistics – and therefore adaptation plans – exclude significant numbers of vulnerable people. Social vulnerability is increasing in the UK due to the global recession, the reform of the public sector and welfare changes. Extreme weather exacerbates pressures on Local Government who are financially stressed to the point that delivery of statutory functions are threatened, thereby making adaptation planning extremely challenging. Effective options to tackle this challenge are governed by two key factors. First, acknowledging evidence based policy insufficiently accounts for constraints on adaptive capacity. Second, effective adaptation requires broader involvement in decision making. Developing adaptive capacity will require considerable effort, particularly for vulnerable groups. Adaptation cannot occur in isolation from socio-economic and political drivers, yet the resource implications of dealing with increasing social vulnerability and climate extremes are poorly understood and not currently factored into decision making.
|Published - Mar 2014