UK Climate Resilience
The UK Climate Resilience programme aims to draw together fragmented climate research and expertise to deliver robust, multi- and inter-disciplinary climate risk and adaptation solutions research. This will ensure the UK is resilient to climate variability and change, and powerfully positioned to exploit the opportunities of adaptation and green growth.
The funding forms part of the Strategic Priorities Fund (SPF), delivered by the UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) to drive an increase in high quality multi- and interdisciplinary research and innovation. It will ensure that UKRI's investment links up effectively with government research priorities and opportunities. The programme is a £18·7 million collaboration led by NERC and the Met Office, with the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC).
There is a need and an urgency for building resilience. It is widely recognised that the impacts of extreme weather and climate change permeate throughout society affecting both lives and livelihoods. UK flooding events in in 2007 affected 55,000 homes, killed 13 people and cost the UK economy £3·2 billion. Global impacts of extreme weather events also affect the UK, for example the 2010-11 increase in wheat prices following crop failures in the Black Sea region. The situation is often exacerbated when events are compounded, for example the co-occurrence of hot and dry summers and their impacts on water availability. As the climate warms, extreme events and the ensuing costs to society will increase.
How do we make our cities and regions resilient to climate change? What are the opportunities to manage adaptation to deliver improvements to society and facilitate economic growth? These are broad and urgent questions for decision-makers from national to local scales, in government, business and society. It is recognised that there is a need to utilise UK expertise and make this transferable to others, while better understanding and assessing the effectiveness of adaptation and climate resilience interventions.
There are two major knowledge gaps:
- The robust characterisation and quantification of climate-related risks in decision-relevant terms.
- The development of effective adaptation strategies and policies that deliver resilience, improve lives, and promote economic growth.
We have the opportunity to deliver green growth through better understanding of how people, businesses and institutions can adapt under a changing climate. There is an opportunity during the transition to a low carbon future to exploit the co-benefits of climate resilient development. Alongside increasing climate resilience, we can design better environments that promote improved quality of life and that facilitate new economic opportunities. A particular opportunity is to stimulate the development of a new generation of 'climate services' that will exploit novel understanding, technology innovations, engineering solutions and community and commercial behaviours needed to build resilient futures across the UK and internationally.
Technical, economic, societal and environmental perspectives of UK climate resilience research were considered at a community workshop held in London on 10 September 2018, attended by researchers and stakeholders representing a wide spectrum of interests. The overarching objectives of the UK Climate Resilience programme seek to drive innovative multi- and inter-disciplinary research within the UKRI and Met Office communities to address the above knowledge gaps. The central objectives of the programme are:
The robust characterisation, quantification and communication of climate-related risks
Climate risk is an integration of weather and climate hazards, the impacts of these hazards across the natural environment and human populations, vulnerability and exposure. For example, the impacts that a heavy rainfall event has on livelihoods, flood defences, finances and homes, businesses and civil infrastructure built on a flood plain.
The aim is to develop the robust approaches, including the software tools, needed to quantify current and future risk in decision relevant metrics. This involves fundamental research challenges, including:
Develop risk-informed resilience and optimise the opportunities from a transition to a low carbon future
Building a low carbon future presents opportunities to both increase national resilience and provide co-benefits including improvements to wellbeing and the economy. The fundamental research needed includes design of decision frameworks to balance between protection, co-benefits and costs; development of new adaptation approaches; promotion of behaviour changes; and monitoring of the effectiveness of adaptation.
Co-produce pilot end-to-end climate services
Climate services are at an early stage of development and new research will: develop novel co-production processes; develop industry quality standards; and investigate governance approaches and design improved monitoring.
The research from this programme should add to the evidence base for the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment and the National Adaptation Programme, and align with the UK government's 25 Year Environment Plan (2018), specifically the goal to reduce risk of harm from environmental hazards and to mitigate and adapt to climate. It will contribute to the government's Clean Growth Strategy (2017) and support the Department for Transport's current priorities for building resilience. It will support the Public Health England Strategic Plan (2016) and the Animal Plant Health Agency with respect to increasing our resilience to pests and diseases with changing climate, extreme heat and the impact of flooding.
The governance of the UK Climate Resilience programme encompasses a number of different bodies which undertake different roles.
The Programme Board (PB) is responsible for providing the strategic direction for the programme, the delivery of the programme's objectives and is the ultimate decision-making authority for the programme. The PB is comprised of representatives from UKRI partners and the Met Office.
The Steering Committee (SC) provides strategic advice to the Programme Board to support the programme objectives.
The current membership of the SPF UK Climate Resilience Steering Committee is:
- Professor Jim Hall, Oxford (Chair)
- Ms Kathryn Brown, Committee on Climate Change
- Liz Bergère, Defra
- Mr Jon Gascoigne, Willis Towers Watson
- Mr Ben Smith, ARUP
- Professor Albert Klein Tank, Director Met Office Hadley Centre
- Professor Rowan Sutton, Reading / NCAS
- Professor Paul Bates, Bristol
- Professor Nick Pidgeon, Cardiff
- Professor Lindsay Beevers, Heriot-Watt
- Professor Georgina Endfield, Liverpool
- Professor Suraje Dessai, University of Leeds (co-Champion)
- Dr Kate Lonsdale, University of Leeds (co-Champion)
The Secretariat based at NERC Head Office will liaise with the programme governing bodies to ensure efficient delivery of programme activities, coordinate grant funding activities and provide administrative support to the PB and SC.