Scottish climate change adaptation programme: progress report 2019

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

Key Developments on Climate Change Adaptation In 2018-19

Climate Change Plan

The Climate Change Plan was published just before the start of this fifth year of the Adaptation Programme. The Plan sets out key actions on forestry, peatlands, agriculture, energy efficiency and transport which contribute to climate change adaptation as well as cutting emissions. The Scottish Government has committed to update the Plan within six months of Royal Assent of the current Climate Change Bill.

Programme for Government 2018

In September, Scottish Ministers' Programme for Government committed to publish a new, five-year Climate Change Adaptation Programme in 2019 and connected a "thread" of policies and actions linked to adaptation: the Climate Change Bill; Hydro Nation; Blue-Green Cities approaches to surface water management; waste water management; investment in flood protection schemes; work on flood resilient properties; the work of Scottish Flood Forum; SEPA's updated National Flood Risk Assessment; the review of Scotland's National Planning Framework (NPF4); policies on energy efficiency in housing; transport policy; agricultural policy and support for farmers; the work of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service; Historic Environment Scotland's leadership on climate change; and Climate Challenge Programme Malawi's support for communities in southern Malawi to adapt to the worst effects of climate change and improve access to food and water under the Climate Justice Fund.

Climate Ready Clyde: Climate Change Assessment

In October 2018, in a link-up with the UN World Cities Day summit in Liverpool, over 70 of Glasgow City Region's leaders and decision-makers attended the launch of Climate Ready Clyde's comprehensive Risk and Opportunity Assessment.

Follow-up publication of supporting detailed analysis, an economic impact study in April 2019, and a toolkit for assessing climate change for major projects in May 2019, have made Glasgow City Region among the best informed regions in the world on its climate risks. Climate Ready Clyde has become an important centre of adaptation activity within Scotland.

Climate Ready Clyde is now developing an Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan due in 2020. The aim is to ensure that Glasgow City Region not just adapts, but prospers in the face of climate change.

IPCC Special Report

In October, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on the Paris Agreement found that humans have caused one degree Celsius of warming to 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.

UK Climate Projections 2018

The latest Climate Change Projections for the UK (UKCP18), published by the Met Office in November, provide a detailed scientific assessment of climate changes to date and the most up-to-date assessment of how the climate of the UK may change over the 21st century. This showed that:

  • temperatures in Scotland have increased in line with global trends. The average temperature over 2008-2017 was around 1 °C warmer than the pre-industrial period;
  • Scotland's annual rainfall has increased since the 1970s;
  • we can expect milder, wetter winters and hotter, drier summers along with an increase in the frequency and intensity of extremes;
  • sea level around the UK has risen by around 16 cm since the start of the 20th century.

UKCP18 is a major upgrade of the previous UK Climate Projections (UKCP09) that uses the latest observations, climate models and information from the most recent IPCC assessment. It gives us the most up-to-date information on the future of our climate. UKCP18 updated projections over UK land areas and of sea-level rise, giving greater regional detail, further analysis of the risks we face nationally and globally, and more information on potential extremes of climate change.

Scotland was well represented on both the UKCP18 User Group for Government Departments and Other Government Organisations and the non-Government User Group.

UKCP18 will help decision-makers assess the full range of risks from the changing climate and help other UK organisations that have to manage climate risks to their assets and operations. It will inform the UK's third Climate Change Risk Assessment, due for completion in 2022.

Adaptation Scotland, funded by the Scottish Government, is currently working with SNH, SEPA, Historic Environment Scotland and the Met Office to develop a climate projections summary specifically for Scotland based on UKCP18.

National Flood Risk Assessment 2018

In December, SEPA launched the updated National Flood Risk Assessment (NFRA) – a key step in protecting and preparing communities at flood risk by improving our understanding of river, coastal and surface water flooding. The NFRA produces a high-level view of flood risk, using SEPA's flood maps supplemented by information from local authorities and Scottish Water. Locations with the greatest flood risk are designated as Potentially Vulnerable Areas because of current or future flood risk to people, the environment, cultural heritage and economic activity.

We now understand that there are around 284,000 homes, businesses and services across Scotland at risk of flooding from rivers, surface water and the sea - currently 1 in 11 homes and 1 in 7 business and services. NFRA projections for a 2080s high emissions climate change scenario show an increase to 1 in 9 homes and 1 in 6 business and services - an additional 110,000 homes, businesses and services are projected to become at risk. These projections indicate the potential scale of the challenge ahead.

Independent Assessment of the 2014 Programme

As required by the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009, Scottish Ministers must commission independent assessments from the Adaptation Committee of the Committee on Climate Change on how well Scotland is preparing for climate change under the 2014 Programme.

The first Assessment in 2016 found that the Programme had made a positive start. Many policies and plans already take account of climate change, commitments within the Programme are being fulfilled, and it provides a solid foundation for further progress.

The second and final Assessment was laid before the Scottish Parliament on 19 March 2019. The in-depth report focuses on what has changed since the Committee's first Assessment in 2016, in implementing policies and actions set out in the 2014 Programme and in managing Scotland's vulnerability to climate risks. The key findings are:

  • The most notable progress since the first Assessment includes peatland restoration, increasing marine resilience and an improved understanding of flood risk in Scotland.
  • The areas of greatest continued concern include increases in pests and diseases in Scottish forests, declines in seabird populations and soil health.
  • Key data and evidence gaps remain that make it difficult to assess progress for a number of adaptation priorities, including the extent of housing and other infrastructure development in flood risk areas and health impacts from climate change.



Back to top