Understanding the Impact of Interacting Risks

Risk Solutions worked with climate resilience experts from WSP, ADAS and UCL, helping the Climate Change Committee (CCC) understand how climate change risks interact and cascade across and between three important sectors – critical national infrastructure, the natural environment and the built environment.

The project outputs form an important part of the Committee’s independent Evidence Report to Government, due to be published in 2021, as the effect of interacting risks is not well understood currently.  This is in support of the Government’s third UK Climate Change Risk Assessment, which is a statutory duty.  The findings are designed to help UK Government and policy makers prioritise future actions to help minimise UK climate change impacts. 

WSP are managed this project and Risk Solutions led the development of a dependency model to capture the interactions.  The work built on existing evidence with the input of stakeholders to produce qualitative maps of the interactions between climate drivers such as temperature rise, hazardous events such as extreme rainfall, and impacts such as the flooding of roads and railways.  The modelling phase then quantified the interactions in each map, allowing the multiplying effects of interactions and cascading risks to be better understood.

The model will be used, in collaboration with experts and the CCC to generate input for the Third Climate Change Risk Assessment, for example by:

  • Prioritising risks and risk interactions in the model
  • Assessing the impact of current and planned adaptation in terms of risk reduction
  • Identifying areas where additional action is needed and the urgency with which this is required

“This is an important project that will make significant contributions to the third UK Climate Change Risk Assessment evidence report”, explains Dr. Paul Munday, Climate Resilience Lead at WSP. “Effective adaptation to climate change cannot be undertaken without careful consideration of the cross-cutting nature of risks, and trade-offs or synergies between the actions that we take to adapt. Understanding how risks interact is critical for assessing the overall costs and benefits of developing policy interventions.”