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Government departments publish plans to tackle climate challenges

08 April 2010

The UK Government has become the first in the world to publish plans that will set out how every major department will address the challenge of climate change in the UK.

The Carbon Reduction Delivery and Adaptation Plans detail each department’s commitment to minimise the damage of climate change, by reducing emissions and by preparing for inevitable change in the UK climate. These plans are being published alongside a single overview of what Government is doing: Climate Change: Taking Action – Delivering the Low Carbon Transition Plan and preparing for a changing climate.
Publishing the plans Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said: ‘These plans demonstrate how each individual department will work to reduce emissions and adapt their own estates, operations and policies. There can be no mistaking that some climate change is inevitable and we will need to adjust the way we live our lives to meet these new challenges and take advantage of new opportunities where possible. These plans are by no means the final word, but are a step towards the low carbon, well-adapted society that we need.’
Energy and Climate Change Minister Joan Ruddock said: ‘The overwhelming scientific evidence shows that human induced climate change poses a huge threat to the world and we must recognise the challenge this presents to all aspects of our economy and daily activities.
‘These plans show Government’s clear and unwavering commitment to reducing emissions, increasing energy efficiency and providing greater opportunities in the low carbon economy. The UK is a leader in international efforts to tackle the challenges of climate change. By linking each department’s primary objectives to the challenges posed by climate change, government will lead by example.’
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change highlights that countries will experience further warming over at least the next 30-40 years due to past emissions because of the time lag in the climate system. In the UK we are likely to see warmer, wetter winters and hotter drier summers with increased risk of coastal erosion and severe weather. The UK Climate Projections suggest a range of possible temperature rises of +0.8 to +4 degrees by the 2040s for different areas of the UK, compared to the 1961-1990 average temperature. Our actions now will determine how dramatic changes are in the longer term.
Carbon Delivery Reduction Plans set out for each department how the aims of the department relate to climate change, the measures they will be taking to ensure delivery of emissions reductions and the indicators and milestones being used to monitor progress. They are a recognition by Government that it is the responsibility of all departments to respond to climate change reflecting the fact that all activities have an impact on greenhouse gas emissions.
Departmental adaptation plans include measures to ensure that the agricultural sector is prepared for the changes in farming practices and can take advantage of new opportunities; adapting the built environment – from green infrastructure in urban areas, to how flooding risk is considered; investment to manage flood risk and coastal erosion; heatwave plans; and encouraging adaptation skills in the economy from engineering, planning and architecture to developing new products and services. Also published are:
1.  new Sustainable Development in Government (SDiG) indicator targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions for its estates and operations across the whole of the Government estate and increasing the resilience of the Government estate to the impacts of climate change. Under the new targets, government will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 34 % by 2020 (from 1999/2000 levels) and increase waste recovery (recycling, external re-use, composting and energy from waste) to 80% of waste arisings by 2016/17.
2. new Government guidance to help Government departments and the public sector to use the procurement process to deliver well-adapted public buildings, services and goods
3. a discussion paper, The Natural Environment – Adapting to Climate Change, to stimulate debate about the future of our countryside in a changing climate
The Climate Change Act 2008 made the UK the first country in the world to introduce long-term legally-binding targets and five year carbon budgets. It requires the UK to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 34 percent below 1990 levels over the third budget period (2018 to 2022) and by at least 80 percent by 2050. The UK Low Carbon Transition Plan, published last July, set out how we would reduce emissions to meet our carbon budgets and announced that we were sharing the UK carbon budget between government departments to ensure that every part of Government is involved in playing its part in reducing emissions. The Act also introduced a framework for adaptation, including a UK Climate Change Risk Assessment every five years from 2012 to assess what a changing climate would mean for society, the economy and the environment and how we might best respond.
The UK Climate Projections were launched in June 2009.VIEW 

The Climate Change Reporting Power requires certain organisations including Government Departments to report on how they plan to adapt to climate change.VIEW 

Climate Change: Taking Action – Delivering the Low Carbon Transition Plan and preparing for a changing climate can be downloaded or at .

The Low Carbon Transition Plan was published in 2009 and can be downloaded 
Defra’s Climate Change Plan can be downloaded at

DECC’s Climate Change Plan can be downloaded 

The UK’s sustainable development strategy Securing the Future designated the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) as the Government’s official sustainability watchdog, scrutinising and reporting on performance. The SDC will continue to monitor the UK Government’s progress against its new SDiG targets. For more information  The SDiG targets can be downloaded
Adapting your procurement is a joint guidance produced by Defra and OGC aimed at all Government departments, the wider public sector and private sector contractors. Projects funded by the public sector have a long lifetime so to ensure the long-term sustainability of this spend it is important that adaptation is considered within procurement policy to ensure projects are able to adapt to the climate change they might face over their lifetime. Adapting your procurement guidance document can be downloaded

Natural Environment – Adapting to Climate Change can be downloaded


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