Scottish climate change adaptation programme: progress report 2017

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


Executive Summary

"Scotland's unique geography creates both resilience and vulnerabilities to the impacts of extreme weather and climate change. Scotland's iconic industries including timber and whisky, and its fisheries, rely on the abundance of climate-sensitive natural resources. The projected changes in weather patterns combined with sea level rise will test the nation's transport, communication, fuel and energy networks and challenge the delivery of health and social care services. There will also be opportunities for Scottish businesses investing in the products, services and new technologies that will be needed to adapt urban areas and grow rural economies in Scotland". These are some of the opening messages from the first independent assessment of the Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Programme, a report commissioned by the Scottish Government from the Adaptation Sub-Committee, laid before the Scottish Parliament in September 2016.

This year's Scottish Government Annual Report covers 12 months which have seen a huge body of work published on which Scotland can build its next Adaptation Programme due in 2019.

In addition to the independent assessment, in July 2016 the Adaptation Sub-Committee ( ASC) of the Committee on Climate Change published the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment Evidence Report and Synthesis Report and a National Summary for Scotland. In January 2017 the UK Government published the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment 2017 including a contribution from Scotland.

In last year's Annual Report we set out key recent developments in climate change adaptation in Scotland, including new climate adaptation indicators, new public bodies reporting duties, a new National Centre for Resilience, Scotland's Flood Risk Management Plan and our Mapping Flood Disadvantage report.

As Scotland prepares to host the 3rd European Climate Change Adaptation ( ECCA) Conference in Glasgow in June 2017, this Annual Report follows the detailed and comprehensive independent assessment last September, by setting out current highlights on progress of the Adaptation Programme, including Scotland's National Coastal Change Assessment, Climate Ready Clyde, Edinburgh Adapts, Historic Environment Scotland's climate change risk assessment for its 335 Properties in Care, and the appointment by ClimateXChange of two Adaptation Research Fellowships which will help address the ongoing research priorities highlighted by the Adaptation Sub Committee, as well as our preliminary responses to key recommendations of the ASC.

Scotland's International Leadership on Climate Action

The Paris Agreement highlighted the links between climate change mitigation and adaptation. Scotland is a world-leader in tackling climate change, with ambitious statutory emissions targets, strong progress to date, and a commitment to maintaining this position by bringing forward new legislation. Thanks to the efforts of everyone in Scotland, Patricia Espinosa, the head of the UN climate body, speaking from last year's UN climate conference, praised Scotland's great achievement in exceeding the level of our 2020 emissions target (a 42% reduction) six years early, with a 45.8% reduction as at 2014. The 2016 annual report from the Compact of States and Regions showed Scotland leading a group of six major states and regions who have already met or exceeded their 2020 emissions targets several years ahead of schedule.

The First Minister met Governor Jerry Brown of California in April, where they agreed to work together to support the Under2 Coalition of progressive and ambitious states, regions and cities, which now covers over 1 billion people and over a third of the global economy, prepare for a major summit in 2018, aimed at persuading national governments to increase their efforts to tackle climate change. Scotland's Climate Justice Fund is delivering £3 million per year to help developing countries and the poorest communities in Africa. The Scottish Government agrees with the United Nations and its partners that the momentum on cutting global emissions is unstoppable, with real progress at national, regional, state, city and local level.

Scotland's emissions cuts have been underpinned by a rapid decarbonisation of our electricity sector. Provisional figures for 2016 showed us generating 53.8% of gross electricity demand from renewables, representing a more than threefold increase in renewable capacity over a decade or so. We also delivered our 500 MegaWatts target for community and locally owned renewables five years early with 595 MegaWatts operating by June last year. We have already set new targets for community renewables of 1 GigaWatt by 2020 and 2 GigaWatts by 2030. Scotland's energy consumption was cut over the past decade by 15.2%, passing our 12% target six years early. Since the 1970s, Scotland has grown to become an international centre of expertise in subsea engineering. Statoil's Hywind Pilot Park, the world's first offshore floating wind park, will begin construction off the Scottish coast in 2017, creating a great deal of international interest in the ability to place wind turbines in deeper water offshore.

Scotland's draft new Climate Change Plan sets out how we propose to drive emissions down further, by 66% in 2032. The Climate Change Bill, and the Plan, with its proposals on forestry and peatlands, together with our Energy Strategy, and its aim of resilience, will deliver a low-carbon transition for Scotland which promotes social inclusion and sustainable growth and makes links between mitigation and adaptation actions.

Scotland's Changing Climate and the Need for Adaptation

Scotland has shown strong commitment in tackling climate change and protecting our environment. We want to avoid the worst impacts of climate change falling on the poor and vulnerable at home and abroad.

The Paris Agreement will reduce but not remove the risk of dangerous levels of warming. Commitments to date imply considerably more than 2°C of warming by 2100, with a central estimate of 2.7°C, and up to 6°C remaining possible.

Scotland's climate has already changed over the past 50 years and we expect that further change is inevitable, so adapting and being resilient to climate change is a very important part of our climate response.

Lord Krebs, then Chairman of the Adaptation Sub-Committee ( ASC) of the Committee on Climate Change, echoed this on the 11 th July, 2016, when he stated: " The impacts of climate change are becoming ever clearer, both in the United Kingdom and around the world. We must take action now to prepare for the further, inevitable changes we can expect. Delaying or failing to take appropriate steps will increase the costs and risks for all UK nations arising from the changing climate."

The first independent assessment of Scotland's Climate Change Adaptation Programme ( SCCAP) published in September 2016, carried out by the Committee on Climate Change, provided further insight stating that " Scotland needs to prepare for the impacts of climate change. The climate in Scotland has already warmed and become wetter and further changes are inevitable in the coming decades due to greenhouse gases from human activity already released to the atmosphere.Average temperatures in Scotland have increased in line with global trends, with average annual temperatures around 0.7° C higher than they were a century ago. Annual rainfall over Scotland has increased since the 1970s, to a level 13% above the average for the early decades of the 20th century. All seasons contribute to the increase in rainfall. Long-term monitoring of sea level at stations around the UK including Aberdeen shows the mean sea level for 2006 - 2008 was more than 100mm higher than during the 1920s."

All stakeholders including Government, the public sector, businesses, communities and members of the public have a role to play in managing the risks posed by the different possible climate change scenarios, adapting to climate change and improving levels of resilience. In so doing, there will also be a host of opportunities with different climate conditions, in innovating and developing the products and services that are needed both domestically and internationally.

Scotland's Climate Change Adaptation Programme ( SCCAP)

Scotland's first statutory Adaptation Programme was published in May 2014. This set out objectives, policies and proposals under three themes: (i) natural environment (ii) buildings and infrastructure (iii) society.

Under Section 54 of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009, Scottish Ministers are required to provide an annual report on progress towards achieving the objectives and implementing the proposals and policies set out in the Programme.

The first annual progress report was published in May 2015: (, and the second annual progress report was published in May 2016:

UK Climate Change Risk Assessment

The UK Government is required under the 2008 Climate Change Act to publish a UK wide Climate Change Risk Assessment ( CCRA) every five years, assessing the 'risks for the UK from the current and predicted impacts of climate change'.

The ASC was asked to prepare an independent Evidence Report for CCRA2. This comprised a synthesis report for the UK as a whole, technical chapters and national summaries, including one for Scotland. The Evidence Report was published in July 2016 and used the concept of urgency to summarise the findings of the analysis, variously identifying 'more action needed', 'research priority', 'sustain current action' and 'watching brief' categories.

It highlighted:-

  • The need for more action to address flood risks;
  • The potential for water scarcity;
  • Heat related impacts on health and wellbeing;
  • Risks to the natural environment;
  • Risks of food price volatility; and
  • New and emerging pest and disease risks, especially for Scotland's forestry.

Notably many of the actions identified as priorities for other parts of the UK have been shown to be less critical for Scotland at this stage.

The CCRA was published in 2012 and the second CCRA2 was published in January 2017.

CCRA2 will feed into the development of the next UK National Adaptation Programme as well as the national adaptation programmes of the devolved administrations.

The ASC Independent Assessment and Recommendations

The first statutory assessment of the SCCAP by the ASC in September 2016, took into account the SCCAP second annual progress report and the CCRA2 Evidence Report.

It confirmed that steps were being taken to prepare Scotland for climate change, the SCCAP was a positive start with almost all of its 148 policies and proposals reported as being on track and it acknowledged that it provided a solid foundation for further progress.

However, the assessment highlighted a number of evidence gaps that meant it was 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: specific, effective steps to directly confront and tackle the risks highlighted. Also, more could be done to make sure Scotland is ready to realise the opportunities that milder winters and warmer summers will bring.

Reference: ASC Recommendation 1 :

The ASC recommended that the Scottish Government in preparing the second SCCAP should:

  • address all urgent risks and opportunities for Scotland;
  • identify a senior owner for each objective to be held accountable for its delivery;
  • list the specific actions that will be taken to achieve each objective together with appropriate milestones and timescales;
  • introduce an effective monitoring regime to allow impact of actions and delivery of each objective to be properly assessed; and
  • present the actions being taken within each sector together and coordinate their delivery.

The ASC recommended that the Scottish Government work with partners and build on the suite of ClimateXChange Indicators to develop datasets where progress is most important and develop outcome based indicators where this is possible.

Opportunities in the Near Future

There will be a key opportunity to share emerging international and national good practice on adaptation at the 3 rd European Climate Change Conference to be held in Glasgow in June 2017.

Next year, the UK Climate Projections UKCP18 (updating UKCP09) will also be available which will allow us to further consider the direction we need to take in the next SCCAP in 2019 to make sure Scotland can meet the challenges and opportunities that climate change presents.


Email: Roddy Maclean

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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