Climate change: second national adaptation programme (2018 to 2023)

In 2018, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) published a policy paper on Climate change: second national adaptation programme (2018 to 2023), with key national actions to prepare for the challenges of climate change over the following 5 years.

The National Adaptation Programme (NAP) also included the Third Strategy for Climate Adaptation Reporting, in line with the Climate Change Act 2008 requirement of individual organisations to produce reports on their plans to adapt to climate change.

The NAP set out the actions for government and others to address urgent risks identified in their 2017 Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA) impacting the natural environment, infrastructure services, buildings, homes, local governments and businesses. The CCRA had identified flooding and high temperatures as the most significant climate change risks to the nation's health and wellbeing.

Long term goals

The long term goals in the report covered six priority areas:

  1. flooding and coastal change risks to communities, businesses and infrastructure
  2. risks to health, wellbeing and productivity from high temperatures
  3. risks of shortages in the public water supply for agriculture, energy generation and industry
  4. risks to natural capital including terrestrial, coastal, marine and freshwater ecosystems, soils and biodiversity
  5. risks to domestic and international food production and trade
  6. new and emerging pests and diseases, and invasive non-native species affecting people, plants and animals.

Impact of climate change on health

The NAP's key aims included raising greater awareness of the impact of climate change on health and public health systems. Actions to address the risks to health included protecting people from climate change by adapting health systems, for example by introducing thermal monitoring for all clinical areas in NHS trusts.

Chapter 4 on 'People and the built environment' focused predominantly on action relating to health systems and public health, with a vision to: 'promote the development of a healthy, equitable and resilient population, well placed to reduce the harmful health impacts of climate change, and able to capitalise on the potential health gains associated with tackling it' and enable 'a health service, a public health and social care system which are resilient and adapting to a changing climate.'

In the document, the NAP set out a number of actions for Public Health England (in partnership with other bodies such as the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England and the Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership) including:

  • developing the evidence base on how climate change impacts water-borne pathogens; surveillance of vector borne diseases; understanding the impact of flooding on mental health
  • creating an adverse weather and health plan by 2022.

Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.
The National Adaptation Programme and the Third Strategy for Climate Adaptation Reporting: Making the country resilient to a changing climate.
HMSO; 2018.

Committee on Climate Change.
CCC welcomes publication of Government's second National Adaptation Programme [webpage].
Committee on Climate Change; 2018.