Scottish climate change adaptation programme: progress report 2019

Fifth annual progress report on the Climate Ready Scotland: Scottish climate change adaptation programme (SCCAP) 2014.

Scottish Ministers' Assessment of Progress To Date on The Programme

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on the Paris Agreement last year found that humans have caused one degree Celsius of warming to the Earth's atmosphere compared to pre-industrial times. 1.5°C of warming could come as soon as 2030.

Many regions, such as the Arctic, are already suffering from even greater warming. Vulnerable and disadvantaged people around the world are being unfairly and disproportionately affected, including people living on small islands and in rural and coastal communities.

Scottish Ministers have listened to the children, scientists, and businesses who have voiced their concerns and we have recognised the global climate emergency. Scotland has already almost halved its emissions since 1990. The Scottish Government has acted immediately on expert advice by proposing that the Climate Change Bill should set even stronger emission reduction targets of 70% and 90% by 2030 and 2040 respectively, and reach net zero emissions by 2045. Scottish Ministers are determined that Scotland's contribution to climate change will end, definitively, within a generation.

Without strong international action, we can expect further serious negative climate impacts, world-wide and in Scotland, including threats to food and water supplies, health, biodiversity and ecosystems, transport, businesses, public services and Scotland's iconic historic heritage. Even if global emissions were to stop today, extreme weather and sea level rise will continue to worsen for decades to come.

The latest climate projections for Scotland, published in November 2018, show that our temperatures have increased in line with the global trends, annual rainfall has increased since the 1970s, and sea level around the UK has risen by around 16 cm since the start of the 20th century. The cold winter and hot summer of 2018 indicated some of the challenges that could lie ahead for Scotland, but also signalled the clear benefits of being prepared.

Scotland's wide-ranging preparations for climate change were set out in our sector-based 2009 Framework and our first statutory Programme in 2014 which has 150 actions to address 130 climate risks.

Key public bodies and publicly-owned companies have long track records of working on climate change, often on mitigation as well as adaptation: Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), Scottish Water, the NHS in Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), Scottish Forestry, Historic Environment Scotland, Marine Scotland and Transport Scotland. Adaptation is now widely incorporated into national strategies and guidance.

Day-to-day support for the 2014 Programme is provided by the Adaptation Scotland programme, funded by the Scottish Government, and delivered by sustainability charity Sniffer. We have built on early support for awareness-raising and knowledge-sharing and now have a well-informed Scottish public, and a strong and enthusiastic community of climate adaptation experts and champions across the public sector. Adaptation Scotland has produced important resources, including Climate Ready Places visualisations, guidance for the business sector, and new public sector capability guidance published in May 2019.

Adaptation Scotland has also led the development of a distinctive Scottish place-based partnership approach. The Climate Ready Clyde partnership, initiated with £100,000 support from the Scottish Government, covers Glasgow City Region which has around a third of Scotland's population and economy and many of Scotland's most disadvantaged communities. Other significant place-based initiatives are Edinburgh Adapts, Aberdeen Adapts and the newly launched Levenmouth Adapts.

We have seen many excellent examples of comprehensive climate risk assessments in Scotland, including: SEPA's updated National Flood Risk Assessment in 2018, the ongoing National Coastal Change Assessment, Historic Environment Scotland's risk assessment of its Properties in Care, SNH's world-leading study of climate risks to Scotland's geology, and Climate Ready Clyde's 2018 Risk and Opportunity Assessment.

We are delivering strong progress across a wide range of policy areas, including £42 million annual funding to local authorities for new flood protection schemes, operating flood warning systems, and working on the resilience of our water supply, transport, health services, natural environment, forestry, peatlands and agriculture.

New approaches and actions to meet the urgent challenge are being brought forward regularly. Programme for Government 2018 and the Climate Change Plan 2018 contained new policies that will strengthen our response to climate impacts, including a new approach to managing surface water flooding in line with the international trend of blue-green cities. In May 2019, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service announced a new approach to preventing wildfires and SNH published Looking ahead – planning for coastal change.

In February 2018, Adaptation Scotland launched a new Climate Ready Business guide, which includes practical examples of steps that businesses can take to increase resilience and adapt to the impacts of climate change. The guide was developed in partnership with Scottish Enterprise, VisitScotland and the 2020 Climate Group and includes case studies from large and small companies. The guidance was sent to over 20,000 businesses, providing support for small and medium-sized enterprises, including those responding to climate risks and opportunities. This resource remains available.

In 2018, Adaptation Scotland sponsored the first VIBES (Scottish Environment Business) Award for business adaptation to raise awareness of the need to adapt and recognise businesses and organisations that are taking action.



Back to top