Adaptation to climate change

Scotland is already experiencing the effects of climate change, and this brings both risks and opportunities.

Climate projections for the next century indicate that climate trends observed over the last century will not only continue, but are likely to intensify.

Adapting to climate change will be necessary regardless of how much we manage to cut our emissions, as historic emissions have already changed our climate and will continue to do so in decades to come.

Our climate change adaptation programme

The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 placed a duty on ministers to lay a programme for climate change adaptation before the Scottish Parliament as soon as reasonably practicable after the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment (UKCCRA), the latest of which includes a summary report for Scotland.

The Act also requires an annual report on progress and for the advisory body, the Committee for Climate Change Adaptation Sub Committee (ASC), to prepare a report within two years, setting out its independent assessment of the progress made on objectives, proposals and policies set out in the programme.

The second Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Programme (SCCAP) to help prepare for the impact of climate change was launched in September 2019. It 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 SCCAP’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 our international ambitions. Its launch coincided with a United Nations Climate Action summit in New York.

The first SCCAP was launched in May 2014, with the aim of increasing the resilience of Scotland's people, environment and economy to the impacts of a changing climate. The ASC's first independent assessment of the first SCCAP recognised the SCCAP as a positive start in taking steps to prepare for climate change. The final assessment of the first SCCAP was published in March 2019 and found that there had been notable progress since the first assessment, but there was still some continuing concern and gaps remaining in key evidence and data, which it expected to be considered in the second SCCAP.

We have published annual progress reports since 2015. The first annual progress report on the second SCCAP was published in May 2020 and can be viewed below:

The annual progress reports on the first SCCAP can be accessed as follows:

Driving adaptation across Scotland

We fund Adaptation Scotland to provide advice and support to help organisations, businesses and communities adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Key achievements so far, as Scotland adapts to climate change, include:

Next steps

As with the first SCCAP, the Adaptation Committee of the Committee on Climate Change will undertake assessments of the 2019-2024 programme during its lifetime. The Committee on Climate Change is now working on an updated evidence report, due to be published in summer 2021, which will inform the third UK CCRA (known as CCRA3) to be published in 2022, which will in turn inform the third Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Programme, due in 2024.