Climate change adaptation

Improving protection against climate extremes.

A new five-year programme to help prepare for the impact of climate change has been launched.

The Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Programme 2019-24 will help us identify the actions Scotland needs to take to adapt to a changing climate.

It sets out more than 170 policies and proposals to protect communities, infrastructure and the natural environment from the threats posed by extreme weather, flooding and coastal erosion.  

Launching the Programme, Climate Change Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said:

“Scotland is a world-leader in climate change mitigation. Our emissions have almost halved since 1990 and our contribution to climate change will end completely within a generation.

“But even if global emissions were to stop today, extreme weather and sea level rises would still continue to worsen for decades to come. We must expect and plan for threats to food and water supplies, health, biodiversity, transport, businesses, public services and Scotland’s iconic historic environment.

“Our adaptation work is internationally recognised and we have made strong progress over the past decade, working collaboratively with public bodies, local authorities and communities to mitigate, adapt and increase our resilience to climate change.

“This new, statutory Programme builds stronger links between our mitigation and adaptation work and focuses on tangible outcomes, helping to deliver wider objectives for our society and economy. In line with our response to the global climate emergency, it will deliver a step change in securing the benefits of a climate-ready, resilient Scotland for current and future generations.”

Chief Executive of Scottish Natural Heritage Francesca Osowska said:

“We welcome today’s launch of the second Scottish Climate Change Adaption Programme, which sets out a clear plan to keep our communities, businesses and assets resilient and adaptive for the future in the face of climate change.

“Expanding and enhancing our nature is an essential part of the solution to the global climate emergency, and the Dynamic Coast project is one fantastic example, demonstrating how action such as dune restoration and salt marsh expansion can help to improve erosion and flood protection and sequester carbon dioxide.

“Nature-based solutions such as these are crucial to adaptation in all of Scotland’s landscapes, whether that is increasing urban greenspaces to help communities to be more resilient, creating better habitat for pollinators critical to rural businesses, or restoring rivers and wetlands to reduce flooding.

“There is still time to tackle climate change, but it will require an unprecedented effort from all sectors of society. We know we have a big task before us but working with our partners we are ready to deliver the transformational change needed to bring a nature rich future for Scotland, part of the urgently needed solution to climate change.”

Head of Technical Research & Science at Historic Environment Scotland Ewan Hyslop said:

“With Scotland’s climate changing at an unprecedented rate, urgent and transformational action is required to adapt to the environmental shifts already underway.

“At Historic Environment Scotland, we’re working to better understand the impacts of climate change on the historic environment, so we can increase resilience of both the historic sites in our care and the wider sector.

“The Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Programme recognises the importance of a resilient and sustainable historic environment as part of communities across the country, and will provide a basis for strengthening partnership working across a range of areas including natural heritage, transport and infrastructure.”


The Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Programme is available to view on the Scottish Government website.

The Programme is a requirement of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 and addresses the risks set out in the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment (UK CCRA) 2017, published under section 56 of the UK Climate Change Act 2008.

The Programme’s outcomes-based approach is derived from both the UN Sustainable Development Goals and Scotland’s National Performance Framework.

The Programme has been aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals to ensure it complements international ambitions. Its launch coincides with a United Nations Climate Action summit in New York.

Rainfall levels have increased by more than a quarter since the 1960s, with 1 in 11 homes and 1 in 7 businesses now at risk of flooding.

The 10 warmest years in the UK since records began have all been since 2003.

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