Government Faces Legal Challenge Over Inadequate Climate Adaptation Plan

The UK government is being taken to court in a landmark case that alleges its failure to establish proper “adaptation objectives” in its national climate adaptation plan breaches human rights. Kevin Jordan, a homeowner in Hemsby, Norfolk, and Doug Paulley, a resident of a care home in Wetherby, West Yorkshire, are the co-claimants in the case, supported by Friends of the Earth. They argue that the government’s latest adaptation plan, which was released in July, falls short of meeting the requirements set out in the Climate Change Act.

Jordan, whose seaside home is perilously close to a collapsing cliff due to coastal erosion, criticizes the government for neglecting the safety of communities affected by climate change. “The collapse of the road made so many more things a struggle…it feels like we’re being forgotten up here,” he said. Paulley, who faces health risks due to his sensitivity to extreme heat, believes the plan fails to address heat-related risks in the social care sector and lacks funding to retrofit care homes with insulation and cooling measures.

The case challenges the government to acknowledge the legal and moral responsibility to protect lives, homes, and property from the foreseeable impacts of the climate crisis. Friends of the Earth and the claimants also argue that the Department for Environment, Farming, and Rural Affairs (Defra) failed to assess the disproportionate impacts of the plan on protected groups under the Equality Act. The claimants have called for more ambitious and effective adaptation plans that prioritize the protection of vulnerable communities facing the consequences of climate breakdown.

As global temperature records continue to be broken and extreme weather events intensify, urgent action is needed to mitigate the impact of climate change. Credible plans are crucial to ensure the safety and well-being of all citizens. The government’s failure to address these concerns highlights the need for stronger commitment and more comprehensive strategies to tackle the climate crisis. The outcome of this legal challenge could potentially set a precedent and bolster efforts to protect vulnerable communities from the devastating effects of climate change.


What is climate adaptation?

Climate adaptation refers to the process of adjusting to the impacts of climate change in order to manage associated risks or take advantage of potential opportunities. It involves implementing measures to reduce vulnerability to climate change and build resilience in various sectors, such as infrastructure, agriculture, and communities.

What are adaptation objectives?

Adaptation objectives are specific goals that guide the development of adaptation plans and policies. They help identify the actions needed to address the risks and impacts of climate change, ensuring that strategies are effective, measurable, and tailored to the specific needs of communities and sectors.

What is the Climate Change Act?

The Climate Change Act is a UK legislation that sets legally binding targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change. It requires the government to produce national adaptation programs every five years, outlining strategies and actions to protect communities from climate-related risks and impacts.

Why is this legal challenge significant?

This case represents the first challenge to the UK government’s climate adaptation plans. It highlights the need for more ambitious and effective strategies to address climate change, ensuring the protection of vulnerable communities. The outcome of this case could have important implications for climate policy and accountability in the UK.