Adaptation to climate change
Scotland is already experiencing the effects of climate change, such as warmer summers and wetter winters.
Climate projections for the next century indicate that these trends will not only continue, but intensify. Read the latest summary for Scotland of the scientific information from the UK Met Office Climate Projections.
Adapting and building resilience to the impacts of climate change will be necessary, alongside our actions to reduce emissions. Many of these impacts are now “locked in” as a result of the historic and ongoing emissions at the global scale.
Action on adaptation means preparing for the impacts of climate change which cannot be avoided. This can mean managing the impacts by improving natural flood defences, ensuring our transport networks are resilient to climate change and preparing our infrastructure and economy for increased temperatures and more extreme weather events.
Our climate change adaptation programme
The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 requires the preparation of strategic programmes for climate change adaptation, as soon as reasonably practicable after each round of UK Climate Change Risk Assessment. The evidence reports that underpin these risk assessments, including a national summary for Scotland, can be found at the Climate Change Committee (CCC)’s UK Climate Risk website.
The second Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Programme (SCCAP) was launched in September 2019 and outlines how Scotland is preparing for the impacts of climate change over the period to 2024. It responds to 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 follows an outcomes-based approach, derived from both the UN Sustainable Development Goals and Scotland’s National Performance Framework.
We have published annual reports on progress to Scotland’s adaptation programmes since 2015. The annual progress reports on the second SCCAP, the most recent one published in May 2023, can be viewed below:
- fourth progress report 2023
- third progress report 2022
- second progress report 2021
- first progress report 2020
The previous progress reports on the first SCCAP (which covered the period 2014 to 2019) can be accessed as follows:
- fifth progress report 2019
- fourth progress report 2018
- third progress report 2017
- second progress report 2016
- first progress report 2015 (archived)
Climate Change Committee (CCC) independent assessment of SCCAP2
The Climate Change Act also requires the CCC’s Adaptation Committee to prepare two reports within the lifetime of each programme setting out its independent assessment of the progress made towards its objectives, proposals and policies. The CCC published its first independent assessment of SCCAP2 Is Scotland climate ready? – 2022 Report to Scottish Parliament and accompanying advice The just transition and climate change adaptation in March 2022.
The CCC's high level conclusion in its independent assessment is that, whilst the vision for a well-adapted Scotland set out in SCCAP2 is welcome, more needs to be done to translate ambition into actions that are commensurate with the scale of the challenge. The Scottish Government has welcomed the CCC's independent assessment and an initial response to its recommendations were provided in the 2022 progress report.
The CCC’s second phase of assessment of the SCCAP2 programme has been formally commissioned and will likely be published before the end of 2023. This will respond to the risks set out in the 2022 UK CCRA.
In August 2023, the Scottish Government published an interim response to the CCC’s assessment of climate risk in Scotland.
The full responses will be published for public consultation in early 2024 before a final programme is laid in the Scottish Parliament in Autumn 2024.
Driving adaptation across Scotland
We also fund the Adaptation Scotland programme to provide practical advice and support to help organisations, businesses and communities adapt to the impacts of climate change. Examples of initiatives supported through the programme include the Adaptation Capability Framework tool, the Community Climate Adaptation Routemap, the Adaptation Finance Guide and Business Cases, and the Climate Hazards and Resilience in the Workplace tools.
Expanding and improving the evidence base around climate change adaptation through research is vital to help support the implementation of adaptation policy and achieve the high-level outcomes set out in the current SCCAP.
A few examples of recently published research projects in the adaptation space include the following:
- a report mapping the impacts of a changing climate on Scottish agriculture
- a report on public awareness of climate risk in Scotland
- a review of the climate vulnerability assessment of Scotland’s marine environment and economy
- a baseline study of property flood resilience in Scotland
- a report exploring the vulnerability of Scottish soils to a changing climate
- a case study analysis on the effect of extreme weather on the delivery of adult social care at home in Scotland
- a report considering the ambition for 20 minute neighbourhoods in Scotland