Climate change - national adaptation plan 2024 to 2029: consultation

The effects of climate change are already being felt by people in Scotland. That is why, as well as taking action to reduce emissions, we must also take steps to adapt to climate change. This consultation seeks your views on the Scottish National Adaptation Plan 2024 to 2029.

Introducing the five Outcomes

Outcome One: Nature Connects

Nature connects across our lands, settlements, coasts and seas.

Our efforts to address the risks posed by climate change must have nature at the centre. Both because climate change is degrading our natural environment, and it must be protected and restored in its own right, but also because nature is one of the best tools we have to adapt to the changing climate. We cannot address one without the other. This is not a “rural issue” - nature has a place throughout our towns, cities, villages and built environment as well as our less populated areas.

Climate change is the biggest threat to Scotland’s wildlife and habitats. Changing rainfall patterns, water scarcity, flooding, extreme heat and wildfire, are all impacting the rate and extent of terrestrial, freshwater and marine species losses across Scotland. The negative consequences on native species, from a greater number of pests, pathogens and invasive non-native species (INNS) are already thought to be increasing.

Strong, protected, biodiverse ecosystems help us adapt to the changing climate. Strong natural environments enhance the resilience of ecosystems, and as such support societies to adapt to climate hazards such as flooding, sea-level rise, and more frequent and intense droughts, floods, heatwaves, and wildfires.

Connectivity is essential for functioning healthy ecosystems. It is key for the survival of animal and plant species, and crucial to ensuring genetic diversity and adaptation to climate change. Connectivity and nature networks also help overcome the urban/rural divide and reinforce the importance of place in adapting to climate change. The greening of our urban environments to make them more “rural” is important for increasing overall climate resilience.

Key policy proposals:

  • As defined by the finalised Scottish Biodiversity Strategy, Scotland is Nature Positive and has restored and regenerated biodiversity by 2045.
  • Development planning which takes current and future climate risks into account and is a key lever in enabling places to adapt, supported by the National Planning Framework 4 and new guidance.
  • Scotland’s net zero pathway is supported by increasing the resilience of natural carbon stores and sinks to the changing climate, supported by actions on peatland, forests and blue carbon.
  • Nature networks implemented in every local authority area to connect nature-rich sites, deliver local priorities and support climate resilience.
  • Enhanced climate resilience in marine ecosystems and the Blue Economy, supported by the National Marine Plan 2, marine protected areas and a marine restoration plan.
  • A new Scottish Plan for Invasive Non-Native Species.

Should you want to read a more detailed breakdown of these policy proposals for the Nature Connects please see here.

Outcome 1: Nature Connects - Public Consultation Questions:

6. Which of the following actions should the Scottish Government prioritise? Please check all that apply.

i. More trees and green spaces in built-up places for flood resilience and cooling

ii. More joined up natural habitats (“nature networks”)

iii. Managing pests and diseases which will be more prevalent with climate change

iv. Restoring forests and peatland

v. Reinforcing natural coastal barriers such as dunes

vi. Other

7. When you consider your local natural space e.g. park, canal, woodland or beach, what would you like to see improved in terms of blue and green space in your local area?

Note: to avoid duplication, data from separate consultations on the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy, Water and Wastewater Services and the Flood Resilience Strategy will be used to complement responses the above noted questions.

Outcome Two: Communities

Communities creating climate-resilient, healthy and equitable places.

People shape places, and places shape people. The physical, social, and economic environment in which we are born, grow, live, work and age has a big impact on our health, wellbeing, opportunities, and experiences. The climate emergency will change Scotland’s places. Challenges like heatwaves, flooding, and accelerating sea level rise are affecting our countryside, towns, and cities, and we know these changes we are seeing now will only increase in the future. To protect our communities, we need our places to adjust to the effects of climate change, and to reduce our need for coal, oil, and gas.

Our places are unique and have always changed over time. Building on their strengths can help us navigate the difficulties of climate change and the need to adapt. By taking a place-based approach to these problems, we can design local solutions to a global problem. Solutions which address community concerns and priorities. Solutions which are fair and just. Solutions which make the most of local opportunities and resources. Scotland's most disadvantaged people and communities will be disproportionately affected by climate change, widening existing inequalities. Our responses to climate change can protect and improve population health, wellbeing and reduce inequalities.

But we can’t make these changes alone. Government, communities, and place-makers will all need to collaborate to ensure that Scotland’s places are designed with tackling climate change and improving people’s wellbeing at their heart. Across Scotland we will need to imagine, experiment, learn, innovate, and adapt our places together.

Key policy proposals:

  • A strong and active national network of Climate Action Hubs supporting community-led adaptation.
  • Collaborative planning and investment partnerships on adaptation, covering all regions by 2029.
  • Capacity building support from Adaptation Scotland and the Community Climate Adaptation Routemap.
  • An increased focus on climate action that can deliver ‘triple wins’ for health, wellbeing and equity.
  • The adaptation of Scotland’s historic environment and traditional buildings.
  • A transformational National Flood Resilience Strategy to guide management of flooding from all sources.
  • Carbon Neutral Islands which support adaptation and resilience in Scotland’s Island communities.
  • The transformational power of culture, heritage and creativity supporting Scotland's adaptation journey.
  • Continued improvements to SEPA’s flood forecasting and warning services.

Should you want to read a more detailed breakdown of these policy proposals for the Communities outcome please see here.

Outcome 2: Communities - Public Consultation Questions:

8. For Scotland to adapt to the impacts of climate change, lots of different groups, such as individuals, communities, businesses and public bodies, will need to work together and support each other. How could others support you (or your organisation) to adapt to climate change over the next five years?

You might want to think about some of the groups listed below and the roles that they could take:

  • Central and local government
  • Other public bodies, such as NHS Boards or enterprise agencies
  • Small and large businesses
  • Third sector organisations
  • Communities

9. In what way(s) could the plan help different groups across Scotland and/or its regions to collaborate on climate adaptation?

Please offer suggestions that could support collaboration on climate adaptation. For example, the plan could describe how different groups should work together and support each other. Or the plan could define geographic areas, roles and responsibilities for responding to climate change risks. Please offer suggestions that could support collaboration on climate adaptation.

You might want to think about collaboration between some of the groups listed below:

  • Central and local government
  • Other public bodies, such as NHS Boards or enterprise agencies
  • Small and large businesses
  • Third sector organisations
  • Communities

Outcome Three: Public Services and Infrastructure

Public services are collaborating in effective, inclusive adaptation action.

Collaboration is essential for a just transition to a climate resilient Scotland. There is no single blueprint for effective climate adaptation partnerships and collaborations; but we know that collaboration on shared outcomes is vital to tackle complex challenges in a way that is equitable, inclusive and builds on the strengths of a place.

The public sector is playing a crucial role in delivering action to enable Scotland to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Adaptation needs to be aligned with a public sector organisation’s strategic outcomes and priorities; and with those it contributes to locally. By doing this, adaptation becomes integral to the functions of an organisation and its ability to achieve outcomes. It can also be more efficient, with cost savings made possible when adaptation is delivered as part of business-as-usual rather than an additional activity.

Adaptation is a legal imperative for the public sector and is supported by legislative and policy drivers. The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 requires the Scottish Government to implement a statutory Adaptation Plan. The Public Bodies Climate Change Duties contained within the Act require public sector organisations to act in the way best calculated to implement the Adaptation Plan and report progress annually.

Key policy proposals:

  • A strengthened Public Sector Climate Adaptation Network in Scotland, with key resources updated to support collaboration across the public sector and beyond.
  • A modernised water industry adapting for the changing climate, informed by the public consultation on water, wastewater and drainage services.
  • Adaptation and resilience embedded across trunk road, rail, aviation, active travel and maritime transport networks, supported by Transport Scotland adaptation strategy.
  • All Health Boards preparing and implementing adaptation plans, informed by regional Climate Change Risk Assessments.
  • Roll out of the Persons at Risk Distribution (PARD) system across Scotland, to help local authorities and the NHS to identify vulnerable individuals during an emergency, such as an extreme weather event.
  • Updated statutory guidance on public bodies climate change duties to set Ministers expectations on adaptation for all public bodies and support more collaboration.
  • A transformational National Flood Resilience Strategy to guide management of flooding from all sources.

Should you want to read a more detailed breakdown of these policy proposals for the Public Services and Infrastructure outcome please see here.

Outcome 3: Public Services and Infrastructure - Public Consultation Questions:

10. Scotland’s net zero targets are part of global efforts to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C. At the same time, the Climate Change Committee’s advice is to adapt now to a minimum global temperature rise of between 1.5 and 2°C for the period 2050 – 2100, and to consider the risks of up to a 4°C warming scenario. Should the Scottish Government adopt the Climate Change Committee’s advice to “adapt to 2°C and assess the risks for 4°C”?

Strongly Agree / Agree / Don’t know / Disagree / Strongly Disagree

Please share detail on your answer:

11. Some decisions, for example those in relation to long-term planning or infrastructure investment, may require greater consideration of future climate conditions. Would further guidance on the appropriate future climate scenario(s) to consider when you (or your organisation) are making plans and investment decisions be useful?

Y / N

12. If yes, what sort of information or advice would be useful for you or your organisation when considering future climate scenarios in long-term planning or investments?

13. Climate change makes extreme weather more likely in Scotland. When weather events disrupt one part of our infrastructure (e.g. energy, telecoms, transport networks), the impacts can quickly “cascade” out to disrupt other infrastructure networks or vital services. For example, an interruption in electricity will quickly affect businesses, hospitals and transport. Would an assessment of “cascading” risks from weather-related disruptions to infrastructure help you or your organisation to adapt?

Y / N. Please share your reasons:

Note: to avoid duplication, data from separate consultations on the Water and Wastewater Services and the Flood Resilience Strategy will be used to complement responses the above noted questions.

Outcome Four: Economy, Industry and Business

Economies and industries are adapting and realising opportunities in Scotland’s Just Transition.

Developing greater climate resilience will be crucial to ensure the future security and prosperity of Scotland’s economy. We know the costs of climate change are high, and no longer hypothetical. It is estimated climate change already costs the Scottish economy billions of pounds per year. By 2050, the economic costs are estimated at 1.2% to 1.6% of GDP per year. Taking action to respond to current and projected climate change makes economic sense.

With a changing climate there are not just costs, but economic opportunities as well. For example, the growth of sectors, services and products which help us adapt to future climate conditions and build resilience to physical climate-related hazards.

Over the next 5 years, The Scottish Government and the private sector can take action to minimise the scale of the long-term economic costs, invest in measures to generate value and harness the market opportunities presented by changes in climate. The National Strategy for Economic Transformation (NSET) sets out a new culture of delivery where partners come together as ‘Team Scotland’ to deliver the actions needed to transform the Scottish economy. This includes ensuring that businesses and communities are involved in the pursuit of the strategy’s ambition of a fairer, wealthier and greener country – a wellbeing economy.

Key policy proposals:

  • Transform how we support farming and food production in Scotland to become a global leader in sustainable and regenerative agriculture.
  • From 2025, shift half of all agricultural funding to be conditional on delivering for climate and nature, including climate adaptation.
  • A transformational National Flood Resilience Strategy to guide management of flooding from all sources.
  • Establish a values-led, high-integrity market for responsible Investment in natural capital building on the existing Woodland Carbon Code and Peatland Code.
  • Establish a private-sector adaptation leaders network to champion adaptation
  • work with Adaptation Scotland, industry bodies and business support services, including Scotland’s Enterprise Agencies to disseminate information on climate risk and opportunities to businesses across Scotland, including our SMEs.
  • Support the UK-wide roll-out of corporate climate risk disclosures
  • Continue to invest in SEPA’s Scottish Flood Forecasting and warning services to ensure flood-risk information is available to businesses across Scotland
  • Deliver a forestry Resilience Action Plan in 2024 and invest more than £650k in yearly surveillance of 1.5 million hectares of woodland.

Should you want to read a more detailed breakdown of these policy proposals for Economy, Business and Industry outcome please see here.

Outcome 4: Economy, Business and Industry - Public Consultation Questions:

14. The Climate Change Committee suggests more Scottish businesses should be assessing and responding to climate risks. What, if any, are the barriers to businesses accessing advice and support on climate risks?

15. Climate change is projected to increase disruption of international and domestic supply chains. How do you anticipate disruption to domestic and/or international supply chains caused by climate change will affect Scottish business, industry and consumers?

16. What, if any, should the role of government be in supporting more resilient supply chains?

17. Farming, fishing and forestry sectors are particularly exposed to impacts of climate change. How should farming, fishing and forestry businesses be supported to adapt to climate change?

18. Scottish businesses will face challenges as a result of climate change impacts. However, climate change will also present business and innovation opportunities. What, if any, do you think are the business and innovation opportunities arising from climate change in Scotland?

19. What, if any, support would be required to encourage businesses in Scotland to take advantage of innovation opportunities arising from climate change?

Note: to avoid duplication, data from separate consultations on the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy, Water and Wastewater Services and the Flood Resilience Strategy will be used to complement responses the above noted questions.

Outcome Five: International Action

Scotland’s international role supports climate justice and enhanced global action on climate adaptation.

Climate impacts do not recognise or respect national borders. 2022 saw records broken for the hottest and driest summers, unprecedented flooding and damage and lives lost due to weather extremes. No single community will be left untouched by the effects of climate change. Some communities however will be disproportionately affected, and it is usually those who are least able to adapt who are the most impacted.

Scotland is a small country, but it is an open and outward looking nation which aims to put people at the heart of its international climate action. We act in solidarity with the Global South to build their capacity to adapt to the impacts of climate change. And not just to survive, but to thrive. We have a voice in international institutions, and we can use that voice to share knowledge and to provide a platform for our partners in the Global South and other states and regions. This will put pressure on national governments to keep to the commitments set out in the Paris Agreement and the UN CBD Global Biodiversity Framework. Scotland is also taking strides forward in research and innovation on climate adaptation and strengthening the policy-academia dialogue. However, we also have a lot to learn about adaptation from communities hardest hit across the world and those facing similar challenges to us here in Scotland.

Finally, the measures to manage our international climate risks fall in many cases to policy areas reserved to the UK Government. However, the Scottish Government is committed to taking all actions within its devolved competency to increase international action and improve domestic resilience to shocks and cascading failures and avoid maladaptation. The actions set out in this chapter, combined with those focused on

Key policy proposals:

  • Deliver Scotland’s world’s first - and recently trebled - £36 million Climate Justice Fund.
  • Continue to use our platform as an international climate leader to influence and engage on climate adaptation, mitigation and loss and damage.
  • Provide a platform to amplify the voices of those communities most vulnerable to climate change, including women, young people and indigenous groups.
  • Create an Adaptation and Resilience Knowledge Exchange Network

Should you want to read a more detailed breakdown of these policy proposals for the International Action outcome please see here.

Outcome 5: International Action - Public Consultation Questions:

20. How could the Scottish Government support communities impacted by climate change across the world?

21. Scotland is known for its excellence in climate change research. Are there international adaptation focussed research opportunities which Scottish-based academic work should focus on?

Cross-cutting action

Just like the Scottish Government’s work on climate mitigation, effective and inclusive adaptation action is a whole-of-government endeavour. This also means there are a number of things we need to get right that cut right across all five outcomes, such as:

  • Ensure the Adaptation Plan reinforces other key policy areas, like the Climate Change Plan
  • Effective partnership and collaboration with delivery partners
  • Development of a climate-smart workforce and skills
  • Scaled-up private investment

You can read more about proposed approaches on cross-cutting action here.

Public Consultation Questions on Private Investment:

22. Both public finance and mechanisms to leverage greater private finance will be required to deliver adaptation action. What do you see as the main barrier to private investmentfor adaptation action?

23. How can SG support/incentive more private investment? Some potentials ways of promoting private investment are provided below.

  • Blended finance models cli
  • Mainstreaming adaptation in existing market codes
  • Grant funding schemes
  • Open data platform and industry-led common metrics

Should you want to read a more detailed breakdown of these policy proposals for private investment please see here.

Monitoring Adaptation

Measuring and monitoring how we are doing is also crucial to delivering inclusive and effective adaptation action. Considering the complexity of the adaptation policy landscape, this is a challenge for all Governments. At the end of this document, you will find a section describing how we intend Scotland to be a leader in this field.

Monitoring and Evaluation - Public Consultation Questions:

24. The draft Adaptation Plan sets out plans to develop an adaptation monitoring and evaluation framework. Our proposed approach is for annual reports to include a set of quantitative indicators to monitor progress to the Adaptation Plan’s objectives. In addition, we propose to publish a baseline at the start and report on progress at the end of the Adaptation Plan to track longer-term outcomes. Do you agree with the proposed approach to monitoring adaptation?

Strongly Agree Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree Don’t know

25. Do you have suggestions of data or indicators that could be used to track adaptation outcomes in Scotland? The proposed outcomes and objectives of this draft Plan are set out here.

Impact Assessments

Impact Assessments - Public Consultation Questions:

The following questions will inform the impact assessments in considering the possible effects and outcomes of the Adaptation Plan on people, businesses, and communities. It is important that the Adaptation Plan delivers a just distribution of the costs and benefits associated with climate resilience measures and avoids any unjust negative impacts.

Personal characteristics that are protected by law against discrimination are: age; disability, gender reassignment; marriage and civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity.

26. What, if any, impacts do you think this Adaptation Plan will have on groups/individuals who share the aforementioned protected characteristics?

27. What, if any, measures could be taken to strengthen any positive impacts or lessen any negative impacts in this respect?

Lower-income households are already at increased risk from the impacts of climate change. Measures to increase climate resilience should aim to reduce the social and economic disadvantages experienced in Scotland.

28. What, if any, impact do you think this Plan will have on inequality caused by socio-economic disadvantage?

29. What, if any, measures could be taken to strengthen any positive impacts or lessen any negative impacts in this respect?

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is the base standard for children’s rights and sets out the fundamental rights of all children.

30. What, if any, impact do you think the Adaptation Plan will have on children’s rights and wellbeing?

31. What, if any, measures could be taken to strengthen any positive impacts or lessen any negative impacts in this respect?

Our Islands face unique challenges around distance, geography, connectivity and demography that we must be mindful of when planning a climate resilient Scotland.

32. What, if any, impacts do you think the Adaptation Plan will have on Island communities?

33. What, if any, measures could be taken to strengthen any positive impacts or lessen any negative impacts in this respect?

Legal framework and evidence-base

The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 requires Scottish Ministers to set out an Adaptation Plan responding to each UK wide ‘Climate Change Risk Assessment’ (CCRA). A new CCRA is published every five years. The CCRA acts as a common evidence base underpinning adaptation plans in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the UK Government.

The third CCRA, or CCRA3 – to which this draft Adaptation Plan will respond – establishes 61 risks, and opportunities, from a changing climate. The Climate Change Committee’s advice accompanying the CCRA3, includes the need to “adapt to 2°C; assess the risks up to 4°C”. This consultation asks for your views on this advice.

Conclusion and Next Steps

We are all living with climate change. That is why your views and lived experiences of climate impacts are so crucial to shaping an effective and inclusive national response. During the public consultation period on the draft Adaptation Plan, besides launching the draft via the Scottish Government’s Citizen Space platform, we will also be running a series of public and stakeholder engagement events. Publication of the final Adaptation Plan is scheduled for September 2024.



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