Climate risk reports

The climate is changing, and we are already seeing many of the effects of this change in the world around us. Action to reduce greenhouse gas emission is critical to limit warming in the long term, but whatever mitigation action is taken, we are already committed to some level of warming in the short to medium term. On these timescales it is vital that we adapt to the climate change that cannot be avoided.

The idea that we need to both mitigate and adapt to climate change has important implications for development planning and action. Climate change represents a threat to the successful achievement and maintenance of the Sustainable Development Goals, and information to better understand the risks associated with climate change is needed to inform development planning at all levels.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) is responsible for the majority of the UK’s overseas aid budget and is at the forefront of UK efforts to tackle global poverty and support development. New guidance within FCDO explicitly requires development programmes to consider the potential risks associated with climate variability and change as part of the planning process, increasing the need for information on climate risks within the development context.  

Taking a risk-based approach

Climate risk is about more than just the climate hazard alone. Risk is a combination of hazard, exposure, and vulnerability, so it is critical that information about the weather and climate is evaluated in the context of the lives and livelihoods of the populations affected. For mitigation this means understanding what different levels of action on curbing greenhouse gas emissions means in terms of outcomes for human security and development. For adaptation this means providing information on the climate change we are committed to, to evaluate the options available to manage exposure and vulnerability. Taking a risk-based approach helps to frame the challenges of climate change in a way that can best inform action to tackle those challenges.

The climate risk reports

The climate risk reports are a joint Met Office, ODI and the FCDO collaboration to contextualise the climate variability and change in the context of the socio-economic exposure and vulnerability in ODA-eligible regions. They aim to provide FCDO with accessible and authoritative evidence on climate risk relevant to development programming in support of adaptation and resilience planning within FCDO and the UK Government.

The reports present a top-level regional overview of potential risks to development associated with climate and climate change, signposting to key issues and complexities. Climate risks out to the 2050s are assessed through a combination of analysing current and future climate alongside socio-economic factors.

This information is valuable for understanding the scale of the threat associated with climate change, and therefore to support discussion of, and planning for, both the climate adaptation and mitigation challenge. The climate risk reports aim to frame research in a development programming context to inform resilience and adaptation action for living in the current and future climate, or to manage risk in the context of complex human-environment systems.