We know our climate is already changing. We see it all around - record rainfall and flooding, droughts and wildfires, and worrying reports of ice shelves breaking up in Greenland. Although the aggregate impacts of climate change in Scotland might be less severe than in many other parts of the world, the impacts for individuals, businesses and communities can be distressing and damaging and it is important that Scotland is well prepared and resilient to change.
That is why taking action on climate change is one of my top priorities. This means adapting to the impacts of climate change that we are already experiencing and will experience in the future, while also contributing to global efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions to prevent much greater change.
Preparing effectively for unavoidable climate change and reducing emissions are both essential actions if we are to ensure sustainable economic growth in Scotland - the overarching purpose of the Scottish Government - and to best protect our much valued ecosystems and species.
Climate change is not just an environmental issue - the impacts are also felt by businesses, communities and individuals. Our climate affects people's health, our road and rail services, water supplies, energy demands, tourism - the list is almost endless. Adapting to these changes is not something that governments can do alone. It depends on organisations, businesses and communities understanding the impacts of the changing climate and taking action to prepare for its effects.
We cannot eliminate all the risks we face from a changing climate. There is considerable uncertainty with future climate change. Many of the factors likely to affect the degree of future change are uncertain themselves - for example population growth and technology developments. But uncertainty is not an excuse for inaction. The challenge is to ensure that the actions we take to adapt are flexible and can be adjusted as our understanding improves.
Everyone in Scotland must accept responsibility for their share of action and working collaboratively. Clear leadership, advice and guidance from government is vital and I am committed to ensuring that existing and future Scottish Government policy, as far as possible, helps Scotland adapt to the effects of climate change to create a more resilient country for us to live and work in and to help protect Scotland's much loved natural environment. This Programme is part of that commitment.
Minister for Environment and Climate Change