Interacting climate risks within the built environment, natural environment and infrastructure: evidence in support of the third UK CCRA

09:00 Thursday 30 May

SS038 • OC225

Room S6


Paul Munday (United Kingdom) 1; Chris Rees (United Kingdom) 2

1 - WSP; 2 - Risk Solutions


Climate change risks are not discrete; they will affect multiple sectors, assets and agents simultaneously and many risks will cascade through our natural and built environments. Climate change also has the potential to create new interdependencies as well as amplify existing ones. For example, higher average summer temperatures and extreme high temperature events are likely to result in multiple, interacting physical, socio-economic and environmental risks in cities, including overheating of homes, public buildings (such as hospitals) and transport networks and drying out of urban green and blue infrastructure. This can lead to ill health, particularly in at-risk populations such as the elderly, and pressure on health and social care services, as well as lower economic productivity and increased demand on energy and water systems (leading to competition for resources elsewhere).

This oral presentation will summarise findings from a project commissioned by the UK’s Committee on Climate Change (CCC) to identify interacting climate risks within the natural environment, built environment and infrastructure sectors so as to support effective adaptation planning and decision-making. Findings from this study will support the third UK CCRA, to be published by the UK Government in 2022.


The project uses a dependency modelling approach, including taking account of socioeconomic interactions, to provide the framework for understanding how interacting climate risks may affect each sector (i.e. natural environment, built environment and infrastructure). The likelihood and impact of the risks identified by the dependency modelling have been assessed and the most significant risks identified. This prioritisation will allow focus to be maintained on developing potential policy responses which facilitates effective and efficient adaptation to the most significant interacting risks.

Results / conclusions

This is an ongoing project and the methodology is being applied at the time of writing. Despite this, we anticipate a number of findings/contributions, namely (but not limited to):

  • Identification of opportunities for improving existing systems models to account for interactions between climate risks
  • Development of a systems map that captures both the depth and breadth (and complexity) of interacting climate risks and cascading failures between and across sectors
  • Prioritisation of risks, including consideration of urgency to support Climate Action

The benefits (and limitations) of using the approach will also be discussed; this is important as other countries begin to consider interacting climate risks. The primary benefit of the research will be to understand the functional, physical, geographic, economic and social interdependencies which exist.