Environmental Audit Committee Press Notice

NEW INQUIRY: Adapting to climate change

Most of the changes in climate that will happen over the next 30 to 40 years have already been determined by past and present emissions of greenhouse gases. This means that changes in our climate are inevitable, even if we can successfully reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avoid dangerous levels of climate change. The kind of changes we could see include warmer and wetter winters, hotter and drier summers, sea level rise, and more severe weather events such as storms, floods, droughts and heat waves. Adapting to climate change is the process of building resilience and preparing households, businesses, infrastructure, public services and vulnerable parts of our society to cope with the impacts of climate change, and to take advantage of any new opportunities that result.

The Committee has commissioned a review from the National Audit Office (NAO) on climate change adaptation. This provides an overview of climate change adaptation policy in England, including the implications of the Climate Change Act 2008, the cross-government 'Adapting to Climate Change' programme and the current capacity across Government Departments to assess and manage risks to their objectives from future climate change impacts.

The NAO's review is the starting point for a new inquiry into adaptation that is launched today. The purpose of the inquiry is to assess whether the Government is on the right path to embedding effectively climate change adaptation, and management of risks from future climate change impacts, into Government programmes, policies and decision making, and into those of the wider public and private sectors. The Committee will also examine whether climate change adaptation is being sufficiently funded and supported as a challenge for the long-term and the extent to which short-term pressures could prevent effective adaptation.

In particular the Committee is interested in receiving written evidence that looks at:

  • the extent to which the Adapting to Climate Change Programme will increase resilience by embedding adaptation and climate change risk assessment into the work of Government Departments;
  • the extent to which Government departments have identified the risks from a changing climate that will stop them from meeting their objectives;
  • the suitability of the processes and structures in and across Government departments for identifying, mitigating and managing these risks and determining the future priorities of central government's approach to adaptation (and the National Adaptation Programme);
  • how well the overall direction for work on adaptation has been set, the effectiveness of the statutory framework (including the use of the Reporting Power and its accompanying statutory guidance), the allocation of powers and duties and how well issues like social justice are addressed in adaptation policies;
  • whether short-term priorities for action including identifying and protecting key infrastructure and systems (for example power, food, water, transport infrastructure, defence and security), have been identified and how these are or might be addressed;
  • the funding, support, training and other resources available, including at a local and regional level, for:
    • building capacity to adapt to climate change
    • specific actions to adapt to climate change, such as investment in flood risk management or the resilience of critical national infrastructure
    • helping individuals and organisations conduct their own climate change risk assessments and judge what actions they need to take;
  • the monitoring and evaluation of work on adaptation, including thoughts on how progress on adaptation can be quantified and success measured;
  • the effectiveness of communication within and between departments; and between government, local government, business and the general public on adaptation;
  • whether work on adaptation should be embedded into existing sustainable development frameworks and, if so, how this might be achieved.

Responses dealing with one or two of the issues above are as welcome as more wide ranging responses. Those responding to this call for evidence are encouraged to look at the work done for the Committee by the NAO

The Committee invites organisations and members of the public to submit written evidence setting out their views on these issues. Submissions should be sent to the Committee by Monday 5 October 2009. Guidance on preparing submissions is set out below.

Please note

Each submission should:

  • Be no more than 3,000 words in length;
  • Begin with a short summary in bullet point form;
  • Have numbered paragraphs; and
  • Be in Word format with as little use of colour or logos as possible.

A copy of the submission should be sent by e-mail to [email protected] and marked 'Adapting to climate change'. An additional paper copy should be sent to:

Clerk of the Committee

Environmental Audit Committee

House of Commons

7 Millbank



It would be helpful, for Data Protection purposes, if individuals submitting written evidence send their contact details separately in a covering letter. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Please supply a postal address so a copy of the Committee’s report can be sent to you upon publication.

A guide for written submissions to Select Committees may be found on the parliamentary website at:


Please also note that:

  • Material published elsewhere should not form the basis of a submission, but may be referred to within a proposed memorandum, in which case a hard copy of the published work should be included.
  • Memoranda submitted must be kept confidential until published by the Committee, unless publication by the person or organisation submitting it is specifically authorised.
  • Once submitted, evidence is the property of the Committee. The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to make public the written evidence it receives, by publishing it on the internet (where it will be searchable), by printing it or by making it available through the Parliamentary Archives. If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure. The Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence.
  • Select Committees are unable to investigate individual cases.


1. Membership::

Chairman:  Mr Tim Yeo, MP

Gregory Barker MP Mr Nick Hurd MP Mrs Linda Riordan MP

Mr Martin Caton MP Ms Jane Kennedy MP* Mr Graham Stuart MP

Colin Challen MP Mark Lazarowicz MP Jo Swinson MP

Mr David Chaytor MP Mr Ian Liddell-Grainger MP Dr Desmond Turner MP

Mr Martin Horwood MP Mr Shahid Malik MP Joan Walley MP

* The Minister for the Environment has membership of the Committee in like manner to the Financial Secretary’s membership of the Committee of Public Accounts.

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