We need to talk about adaptation


New report finds that only 0.76% of articles written by the UK’s leading environmental organisations focus on climate change adaptation

Report title: We need to talk about adaptation
Authors: The Glacier Trust; Morgan Phillips (Co-Director); Asha Bridewell (Volunteer); Carys Richards (Volunteer)
Foreword by: Asher Minns, Executive Director, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research


Research by UK charity, The Glacier Trust, reveals the extent of climate change adaptation reporting by five of the UK’s leading environmental organisations. Included in the study are: Friends of the Earth UK; World Wildlife Fund UK (WWF UK); Greenpeace UK; Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB); The Green Party of England and Wales.

The Glacier Trust analysed news and blog posts over a period of 18 months in 2017/18. Of the 1,579 articles studied, the majority (1,051) covered environmental, social and political issues, but made no mention of climate change. A total 528 articles did cover climate change, of which 83 referenced or mentioned adaptation or loss and damages. Only 12 articles (0.76%) were specifically focused on climate change adaptation.

The pattern was similar across all five organisations studied. Climate change made up around a third of all articles studied, but within this category the vast majority of stories were focused on mitigation strategies, campaigns, or on accounts of the problem itself.

Morgan Phillips, The Glacier Trust’s UK Co-Director and lead author of the report said:

Adaptation is the poor cousin of mitigation in conversations about climate change. This lack of attention is translated into the huge disparity between the money made available to enable adaptation compared to mitigation around the world. Things are moving in the right direction, but we know that less than 7% of climate finance is currently going to adaptation projects (less than $30bn US / yr). Our report shows that environmental organisations can and do talk about adaptation, it is part of their remit, we hope they will talk about more in 2019.

 Writing in the foreword to the report, Asher Minns (Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research) said:

We Need to Talk about Adaptation detects a trend of overlooking adaptation… [A] strength of the adaptation narrative is that it has people at front and centre… Adaptation is the compelling story about people to be told to people so that they triumph over adversity. This narrative is even more relevant to environmental charities who rely on engaging and increasing members and donations.

 By telling the story of adaptation environmentalists can do two key things:

  1. Put adaptation on the agenda; doing this increases the chances that the adaptation needs of those suffering the impacts of climate change are heard.

  2. Raise awareness of good practice in adaptation, helping it to spread and reducing the risk of widespread maladaptation.

For more information, please contact Morgan Phillips:
Email: morgan.phillips@theglaciertrust.org
Phone: 0044 7967 828 063
Website: www.theglaciertrust.org
Twitter: @theglaciertrust

About The Glacier Trust:

The Glacier Trust is a UK charity (no. 1124955). Working with University and NGO partners, The Glacier Trust enables climate change adaptation in the remote mountain communities of Nepal. In the UK, the trust aims to increase awareness and support for climate change adaptation.