Climate Risks

Climate change affects people, the environment, and key aspects of quality of life (food, water, energy, transport, livelihoods etc.). The relationship with weather and climate is often more complex than it may first appear because multiple risk factors typically combine together. To distinguish the role of these factors and identify how they are evolving, Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA) is used. In the UK, a CCRA every 5 years is a statutory legal requirement of the Climate Change Act (2008) to inform national adaptation planning.

I have been involved as a Natural Environment lead contributor for previous UK CCRAs which reported in 2011 and 2016. At present, I am a co-lead for the 3rd UK CCRA which will report in 2021. For each CCRA cycle, we have learned a lot in terms of improving understanding and categorisation of risks. A key part of the process is to assess how much we are currently adapting to climate change and therefore how much residual risk remains which may require further actions. We know it is also important to consider how risks interact and the potential for indirect or compound risks, especially in combination with socioeconomic factors such as population or land us change. This is especially the case for extreme events such as flooding, large-scale droughts, heatwaves, windstorms and wildfire.

A particularly important topic now is linking CCRAs with the developing agenda for Net-Zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2050 or earlier. The pathways to Net-Zero will also be very influential with regard to climate change adaptation plans.


Adger N, Brown I, Surminski S (2018) Advances in climate change risk assessment for adaptation policy. Philosophical Transactions Royal Society A. doi:10.1098/rsta.2018.0106

Brown I (2018) Evaluating climate change risks for the natural environment to facilitate cross-sectoral adaptation policy. Philosophical Transactions Royal Society A. doi:10.1098/rsta.2017.0297

Brown I, Thompson D, Bardgett R, Berry P, Crute I, Morecroft M, Morison J, Pinnegar J, Reeder T, Topp K (2016) UK Climate Change Risk Assessment 2017: Chapter 3 – Natural Environment and Natural Assets.

Brown, I (2015) Comparative risk assessment to inform adaptation priorities for the natural environment: observations from the first UK climate change risk assessment. Climate 3, 937-963 doi:10.3390/cli3040937

Brown, I, Castellazzi, M, Feliciano D (2014) Comparing path dependence and spatial targeting of land use in the implementation of climate change responses. Land3(3), 850-873.