Kent and Medway Climate Change Risk and Impact Assessment

In 2019, Kent County Council commissioned JBA Consultants to undertake an assessment of the priority risks and impacts climate change will have on six key sectors in Kent and Medway, resulting in the Climate Change Risk and Impact Assessment (CCRIA).


The CCRIA identified, assessed the impact of, and provided recommendations for 6 priority risks and 1 research area for the county, in line with findings in the UK CCRA 2017. This assessment will inform the Kent and Medway Climate Change Adaptation Programme and Implementation Plan to be developed in 2020. The CCRIA is available on www.kent.gov.uk.

The challenge:

Climate change is already affecting Kent and Medway. Therefore, understanding the potential future impacts of warmer, wetter winters and hotter, drier summers is crucial for future prosperity, environmental quality, and health and well-being of communities. The impacts of climate change are likely to be felt acutely in Kent with its long, strategically important coastline, large number of properties at risk of flooding and warm summers compared with the rest of the United Kingdom. It is imperative that the impacts of climate change are considered alongside other drivers of change including economic fluctuations, population growth and demographic shifts.

Analysis of UKCP18 projections identified the following climate changes for Kent:

  • Hotter summers with an increase in average summer temperature of 2 – 3°C by 2040 and 5 – 6°C by 2080.
  • Warmer winters with an increase in average winter temperature of 1 – 2°C by 2040 and 3 – 4°C by 2080.
  • Drier summers with a reduction in average precipitation of 20 – 30% by 2040 and 30 – 50% by 2080.
  • Wetter winters with an increase in average precipitation of 10 – 20% by 2040 and 20 – 30% by 2080.
  • Increases in sea-level rise by up to 0.3m by 2040 and 0.8m by 2080.

Recent modelling suggests that the costs and impacts of climate change will likely increase over the next 30 – 80 years without significant, rapid action. Decisions made today will have lasting effects on local populations, services, the natural environment, infrastructure and finances over the coming decades.

The solution:

The Climate Change Risk and Impact Assessment for Kent and Medway (CCRIA) is intended to inform policy and decision-makers of the key climate risks that will have the greatest impact on Kent’s society, economy and environment, within the context of other future socio-economic drivers, providing the evidence for future planning.

The CCRIA methodology was based on the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment (UK CCRA) published in 2017; current climate risks, opportunities and adaptation are assessed and assigned urgency scores with recommendations reflecting the type of action that will be required in the short-term. The methodology was tailored to focus on risks and impacts as adaptation planning will be addressed separately. The urgency scoring approach is centered on the magnitude of the future risk (taking into account probability and impact), the adaptation shortfall (the gap between current actions and adaptation required) and interdependencies (the degree to which risks influence or are influenced by risks in other sectors and at national/international scales). Research undertaken to complete the CCRIA comprised: a SWOT review of the socio-economic characteristics of key sectors, an initial analysis of the most recent local climate change projections (UKCP18), stakeholder consultation, and development of a comprehensive impact and prioritisation scoring matrix.

The CCRIA findings are presented in three outputs. Part 1 provides the methodology and summarises the overall findings. Part 2 presents specific assessments for each of Kent’s key sectors: Agriculture, Industry, Natural Environment, People and the Built Environment, Transport, and Utilities. Part 3 gives snapshots of the sector summaries through fact sheet infographics. The study is pioneering as few local authorities have conducted climate change risk assessments at a regional scale.

The impact (including cost savings/income generated if applicable):

As a result of the CCRIA, key recommendations have been developed for Kent:

  • Undertake more in-depth research into localised and specific climate risks and impacts to build the evidence base, awareness and capacity to take action.
  • Ensure projects, plans and processes have taken into account climate change and are resilient to climate risk in the long-term.
  • Take action to reduce future financial costs – many studies show that adaptation is generally cheaper and more effective over time than the costs incurred responding to the impacts.
  • Invest in cross-sector co-benefits – actions can deliver multiple wider benefits such as improving health and wellbeing, property values, skills and employment, reducing emissions and supporting biodiversity.

Proactive measures must be implemented to reduce the risks Kent and Medway face. There is a need for better research, strategic planning and co-ordination of adaptation to ensure measures are appropriate, robust and support pooling of resources to respond to climate risks.  Failure to adapt will undermine the long-term viability and quality of life in the county. As a result of the CCRIA, Kent County Council will be leading on developing and implementing a Kent-wide adaptation programme, in line with the UK National Adaptation Programme 2018, to build the county’s resilience to climate change over the next few years.

How is the new approach being sustained?:

The CCRIA was completed in partnership with public, private and third-sector stakeholders across the county contributing to the analysis. As such, wide support for continued co-delivery on this topic has been established.

There is also increased support for mainstreaming climate risk and resilience to build adaptation capacity. A practical example of this will be demonstrated within the Kent-wide Adaptation Programme where actions will be timed, costed, monitored and evaluated regularly to measure progress across the county.

Lessons learned:

Undertaking a risk assessment is a key step for local authorities to identify and take action to reduce impacts from climate change. Significant focus is on current, localised risks, but better understanding of potential future impacts of climate change from a systems approach is vital for taking effective action and making more sustainable decisions today.

Kent's changing climate

Contact: [email protected]