Scottish climate change adaptation programme: progress report 2018

Fourth annual progress report on the Climate Ready Scotland: Scottish climate change adaptation programme.

Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Programme 2014

The 2014 Programme

Scotland is responding to the climate challenge. Following the publication in 2009 of Scotland's Climate Change Adaptation Framework, Climate Ready Scotland, Scotland's first statutory five-year Climate Change Adaptation Programme, was published in May 2014.

The Programme aims "to increase the resilience of Scotland's people, environment and economy to the impacts of a changing climate". The programme was designed to address over 130 climate impacts through around 150 individual policies and proposals spanning three themes: natural environment; buildings and infrastructure; and society.

The Programme was informed by a three-month public consultation, scrutiny by the Scottish Parliament and a Strategic Environmental Assessment. Scottish Ministers report annually on progress on the Programme.

The Programme set out objectives, policies and proposals under three themes: (i) natural environment (ii) buildings and infrastructure (iii) society. At the heart of the Programme are Scottish Ministers' objectives, proposals and policies for addressing the key impacts identified for Scotland in the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment 2012.

The Programme contains a broad package of measures that:

  • help Scotland adapt to the effects of climate change;
  • create a more resilient country for us to live and work in; and
  • help to protect Scotland's much loved natural environment.

Case Study: Dynamic Coast: Scotland's National Coastal Change Assessment

Dynamic Coast is a multi-stakeholder project led by the Scottish Government, managed by Scottish Natural Heritage, carried out by the University of Glasgow and is funded by CREW (Centre for Expertise in Water). Phase one of the project forecasts coastal change to 2050 based on past erosion rates. Key findings: four-fifths of Scotland's coastline is hard but 19% (3,802km) is soft and at risk of erosion. Scotland's beaches and dunes play a vital role in protecting £13 billion worth of buildings and roads, more than twice the £5 billion currently protected by engineered seawalls. Natural defences currently protect 9,000 buildings, 500 km of road, 60 km of rail track, 300 km of water supply lines, and airport runways such as Islay.

The second phase (Jan 2018 to Dec 2020) is investigating the anticipated impact of climate change on future coastal erosion and erosion exacerbated flooding and developing Mitigation, Adaptation & Resilience Plans at "Super Sites", including Montrose Bay, St Andrews and Skara Brae.

Summary of progress to date

Since the introduction of the Programme, there has been increasing integration of adaptation into the Scottish Government's and public bodies' day-to-day business, in particular flooding, water supply, resilience, energy and planning. Adaptation has also increasingly been included within the core work of the wider public sector, including a long track record at Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Scottish Natural Heritage, Forestry Commission Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland and Marine Scotland.

Significant achievements and developments in climate change adaptation to date in Scotland include:

Case Study: Historic Environment Scotland - Climate Change Risk Assessment of Properties in Care

Historic Environment Scotland has worked in close partnership with the British Geological Survey and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency to conduct a Climate Change Risk Assessment for the 336 Properties in Care on its estate.

In January 2018, Historic Environment Scotland published a major report on Screening for Natural Hazards to Inform a Climate Change Risk Assessment for the Historic Environment Scotland Estate. This study represents the first step in a comprehensive and on-going exercise to understand, monitor and manage environmental risk to the Estate. This study is part of on-going work to develop best practice and integrate climate change actions into operations, in line with the Public Bodies Duties under the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 and Climate Ready Scotland: Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Programme.

The screening of climate related natural hazards has allowed Historic Environment Scotland to identify those sites most likely to be threatened by flooding, coastal erosion, and ground instability. The results of this study informed the Progress report on the conservation and management of properties in care of Scottish Ministers (January 2017), which led to a capital funding boost of £6.6 million for 2017-18 to support investment in conservation work, repairs and visitor facilities at several of Scotland's iconic heritage sites and monuments. The results of the risk assessment work have also underpinned the Annual Report on the Properties in the Care of Scottish Ministers (December 2017) and the new HES Asset Management Plan and Investment Plan, which were launched on 12 February 2018.

Read the full report on the Historic Environment Scotland website.

Independent Assessment of Scotland's Adaptation Programme

An in-depth assessment of how well Scotland is preparing for climate change was commissioned by Scottish Ministers in the first Independent Assessment of the Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Programme by the Adaptation Sub-Committee of the Committee on Climate Change, which was laid before the Scottish Parliament in September 2016. This first statutory assessment took into account the Second Annual Progress Report and the Climate Change Risk Assessment Evidence Report.

The Adaptation Sub-Committee assessed 28 adaptation priorities and made 30 recommendations. Initial progress against these recommendations was set out in the Scottish Government's third annual report to Parliament.

The Assessment found that the Programme was an important step and 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. It confirmed that steps were being taken to prepare Scotland for climate change, with almost all of its 148 policies and proposals reported as being on track.

The Assessment noted some evidence gaps in important areas that make it difficult to determine whether key vulnerabilities are being suitably addressed and there was insufficient evidence to judge progress. Additionally, there is a need for more adaptation action, namely specific, effective steps to directly confront and tackle the risks highlighted. Further, it was noted that more could be done to make sure Scotland is ready to realise the opportunities that milder winters and warmer summers will bring.

Case Study: Scottish Natural Heritage world-first report on how climate change impacts Scotland's geology 2018

The research found that 97% of sites are in a favourable condition currently, with 73% at relatively low risk when it comes to climate change. However, 17% could be at moderate risk and 10% could be at high risk from climate change impacts. These impacts include increased erosion, coastal flooding, and changes in rainfall and storm frequency and intensity, changes in vegetation cover, and reduced freezing of the ground in winter.


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