MPs say flood protection measures to adapt to wetter winters should be increased to £1bn per year by 2035 and made a priority on a par with reducing CO2 emissions.
Adaptation should form a plank of the planning system, they say, and developments permitted only if they can cope with changes to the climate over the coming 50-80 years.
Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee of MPs Tim Yeo, said: “For a long time the climate change debate has focused on reducing carbon emissions, but adapting to the inevitable impacts of rising global temperatures is equally critical.
“Even if all the world’s power stations were switched off tomorrow past emissions mean that some climate change will still take place and we will face more floods, droughts and heat waves.
“We must act now to protect people, property and prosperity and safeguard the natural environment. Delay will only impose greater costs on future generations.
“The Government must be imaginative and establish new and sustainable sources of funding and support for adaptation.”
Homes should be retrofitted to cope with both hotter summers and flood protection. The Government should help to kick start an integrated retro-fitting programme that covers adaptation, water efficiency and energy efficiency. Green infrastructure - such as water storage, greater tree cover and more open green spaces - must also be promoted.
The Committee is urging the Government to ensure that the country takes a coherent approach to adaptation - with all Whitehall departments addressing climate change risks and local communities helped to address the risks they face.