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Climate Change

Volume 468: debated on Thursday 6 December 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps her Department (a) has taken and (b) intends to take by (i) 2012 and (ii) 2020 in relation to adaptation to the effects of climate change as they affect her Departmental responsibilities; and if she will make a statement. (165574)

The Department for Transport (DfT) has contributed to the Climate Change Bill, recently introduced into Parliament, and the cross-Government Adaptation Policy Framework (APF), which is expected to be published in spring 2008.

The Climate Change Bill will set out a requirement for the Government to produce the first UK risk assessment on climate change within three years. Following this, the Government will update the risk report and programme on a five-yearly basis, with one informing the other.

The Adaptation Policy Framework will set out Government’s overall intentions in relation to adapting to the effects of climate change. Following the APF, the Government’s adaptation action plan will be published, which will include specific adaptation targets. As part of the APF, the DFT are developing a Transport Adaptation Strategy, which will offer strategic guidance to DFT stakeholders in terms of risk analysis and management.

In response to the Government’s 2003 White Paper “The Future of Air Transport”, UK airport operators have produced comprehensive master plans that rigorously evaluate the impacts of future airport development proposals, including the impacts of air travel on climate change.

As well as funding industry research into climate adaptation through the Rail Safety and Standards Board, the DFT has established a cross-rail industry forum to identify the challenges that climate change poses to the railway.

The DFT confirmed in the recent rail White Paper “Delivering a Sustainable Railway” (July 2007) that the specification of future rolling stock, starting with the Intercity Express train, will require suppliers to take account of climate adaptation issues in their designs. Network Rail is already designing increased resilience into its renewals work.

The Department has recently completed some research on behalf of the UK Roads Board on adapting materials and techniques in highway works to the changing climate. This will be published as a guide for local authority highway engineers.

The Highways Agency (HA) will deliver a strategy report on climate change adaptation by the end of March 2008, detailing how it can continue to provide a robust network in light of predicted UK climate change effects. The HA has already written two reports in conjunction with the Met Office, cross-referencing the weather-related parameters contained in their standards, specifications and operating procedures against predicted future UK climate change.