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Government must act to counter effects of extreme weather

The UK is not adapting to climate change and the government must do more to prepare for extreme weather events, says new report from the Fabian Society.


Press release Burning trees silhouetted against a red cloudy sky

The UK is not adapting to climate change and the government must do more to prepare for extreme weather events, says new report from the Fabian Society published today.  

Whatever the Weather: A Progressive Strategy for Climate Resilience and Adaptation, a report from the Fabian Society and sponsored by the Association of British Insurers, calls for a raft of measures to speed up and strengthen the UK’s response to increasing global temperatures and the increasing frequency and greater extremity of the weather events it causes. 

During 2022’s heatwave summer, temperatures reached a record high of 40.3°C in parts of England. In this period there were 2,985 excess deaths. 2022’s summer of extreme heat and low rainfall led 11 out of 14 areas in England remaining officially in drought well into November.  

At the same time, flood-related damage costs an average of £700m annually. Warming could see the UK’s annual flood damage bill rise by 20 per cent over the next century. 

The government’s most recent National Adaptation Programme (NAP3) only mentions low income households in the UK once in the entire 141 page report despite the fact they are among the most vulnerable to extreme weather events. This is why a progressive strategy for adaptation and resilience must be central to the policies of a future Labour government.  

The report outlines a series of proposals that will directly improve the lives of workers, renters and those most vulnerable to extreme weather. The report says that the government should:  

  • Introduce a maximum working temperature, allowing workers to withdraw labour if the workplace temperature goes over 30°C (27°C if doing strenuous work). 
  • Require councils to activate the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol in extreme weather events and provide temporary accommodation for rough sleepers for the duration of the severe weather alert, and a minimum of three days/nights.  
  • Place a duty on landlords to prevent overheated homes, based on the existing requirements for landlords to prevent cold homes. 
  • Introduce tougher climate resilience requirements on infrastructure providers, including requirements to conduct stress tests and meet outcome-based standards 
  • Make adaptation reporting mandatory for infrastructure providers and other key organisations. 
  • Ban burning on peatland. 
  • Develop an immediate strategy for investing in the development and maintenance of flood defences to protect more homes. 

Research author Fabian Society Researcher Eloise Sacares said:  

“Climate change is happening, and the UK must adapt. 40C heatwaves are soon to become normal, and the flooding that devastates communities every year is only going to get worse.

“Yet the government’s plans fall far short of the ambition needed to tackle the impacts of climate change. By refusing to build resilience, they not only risk high costs in the future, but also miss out on key environmental and social benefits of adaptation action.

“In this report we set out a progressive strategy for adapting to the impacts of climate change, that aims to protect everyone, but particularly the most vulnerable in our society, from the impacts of extreme weather.” 


– Ends – 



  1. Contact: Emma Burnell, Media Consultant, Fabian Society or 07851 941111.  
  2. The report is published at  
  3. Whatever the Weather is published by the Fabian Society. It was edited by Kate Murray and Iggy Wood. 
  4. The Fabian Society is Britain’s oldest political think tank. Founded in 1884, the society is at the forefront of developing political ideas and public policy on the left. The society is alone among think tanks in being a democratically-constituted membership organisation, with around 7,000 members. It is constitutionally affiliated to the Labour party.  

Photo: Matt Palmer/Unsplash

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