Tackling the twin crises of climate change and nature loss is the collective fight of our lifetime, with defining implications for generations to come. Globally, the need for climate leadership could not be more urgent. Scotland must continue to step up and play our part in becoming Net Zero.
Scotland’s climate has changed significantly and, however successful the global effort to combat climate change is, we can expect further changes over coming decades. 10 of our hottest years have all come in the last 20 years. Intense, short periods of rainfall are causing increased flooding. Extended periods of drought are bringing water scarcity. Extreme weather events, and the cascading impacts of climate change, are putting more pressure than ever before on lives and livelihoods.
These changes impact all of us. From the Highlands to the Borders, our islands and cities, climate change risks are pervasive, varied and already here; challenging families, communities, and businesses across Scotland.
As highlighted in the Climate Change Committee’s latest assessment report, we are taking notable steps forward on adaptation policy. We are making Scotland more resilient to flooding, investing £42 million per year, as well as an extra £150 million for flood resilience over the course of this Parliament. We are getting our homes ready for extreme weather, with building regulations now including measures to address overheating and other extreme weather events. Nature Networks are being created across Scotland to help our wildlife adapt to the changing climate and make our local places more flood resilient and cooler in warmer weather. Scottish farmers are being supported to prepare for a changing climate and our Farm Advisory Service advises on climate risks like water scarcity and resilience to both droughts and flooding. To keep Scotland moving, we have also published our first comprehensive approach to ensuring that Scotland’s transport network is adapting and resilient to climate impacts. Publication of our 4th National Planning Framework and NHS Scotland’s Climate Emergency Strategy are also notable recent steps forward.
There is, however, no room for complacency. We must get ahead of the curve, building resilience in step with our changing climate. Scotland’s net zero targets are part of global efforts to limit climate change to 1.5°C. But we know that the future is uncertain. The Climate Change Committee’s advice is to adapt now to a global temperature rise of 2°C and assess the risks up to 4°C – even though it is imperative the world avoids this catastrophic scenario. Planning and preparation is always better than response and recovery. The decisions we make today must stand the test of time. Everyone has a part to play. Businesses, public sector, the third sector, communities and individuals all stand to benefit from learning more about their exposure to climate change risks and – crucially – how they can respond and what support is available.
Just like our work to reduce carbon emissions, adaptation action also needs to be grounded in fairness, equality and seizing economic opportunities. I am therefore happy to confirm Scotland’s Just Transition Commission have agreed to receive and comment on this draft Adaptation Plan. This contribution, alongside your feedback and advice from organisations such as the Climate Change Committee, will help shape development of the final Adaptation Plan, which is due for publication in Autumn 2024.
So please, let us know how climate change is impacting your life and help us build a more climate resilient Scotland, together.
Màiri McAllan MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Net Zero and Just Transition
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