Chapter 3: Progress towards "our inclusive and sustainable economy being flexible, adaptable and responsive to the changing climate"
The COVID-19 pandemic represents a huge economic shock and the Scottish Government's immediate focus is on supporting businesses under these circumstances.
Action on climate change adaptation, in the context of wider societal and economic resilience, will then form an important element of a green recovery from COVID-19. The independent expert advice published by the Committee on Climate Change on 6 May, which the Scottish Government has welcomed, identifies enhanced adaptation to climate change and the use of climate investments to support economic recovery and jobs as two of the key principles guiding a resilient recovery.
In the longer term, as the global climate continues to change, we remain committed to supporting all parts of the Scottish economy to adapt. Scotland's nature-based industries will, in general, be the most directly impacted by climate change. For example, increased rainfall could lead to greater flooding of Scottish farms and damage to crops, changes in temperature of Scotland's seas may impact Scotland's fisheries, and Scotland's forests may face new pests and diseases. Manufacturing, services, and other industries will face other challenges such as disruption to supply chains, difficult travelling conditions for staff, and water shortages for industrial processes. However, climate change may also offer opportunities for some Scottish businesses including the development of products and services for climate change adaptation, as well as improved productivity in the forestry and agriculture sectors.
In addition to the various Scottish Government policies set out below, action on adaptation is also being led at a local level through regional partnerships such as Climate Ready Clyde - which includes eight local authorities, SEPA, Transport Scotland, Strathclyde Partnership for Transport, Glasgow and Strathclyde Universities, SGN and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. The initiative has recently secured new funding from the European Institute of Innovation and Technology's Climate-KIC programme to catalyse a transformational approach to addressing the impacts of climate change in the Glasgow City region.
Examples of progress to policies in support of this outcome
Fair Work Charter for Severe Weather - The Scottish Government is continuing to promote the Fair Work Severe Weather Charter, encouraging all employers to adopt fair and flexible working practices to protect the health and wellbeing of the workforce and help avoid financial detriment to workers as a result of severe weather situations.
Farming For a Better Climate - A farmer-led soil regenerative agriculture network was established in May 2019. Throughout 2020 this network will continue to focus on positive actions that can be taken on Scottish farms to support, enhance and protect their soils. This will allow them to improve production whilst delivering wider benefits such as building soil resilience, improving water retention, storing carbon and enhancing bio-diversity.
Scotland's Forestry Strategy - 'Increasing the adaptability and resilience of forests and woodlands' is a priority within Scotland's Forestry Strategy 2019-2029. Since September 2019, we have been developing a Forestry Strategy Implementation Plan for 2020-2022, working in partnership with a range of forestry and land use interests, including members of a fixed-life stakeholder working group. Publication of the Plan, scheduled for April 2020, has been postponed due to the COVID-19 emergency. The content is being reviewed and many of the agreed collective actions remain relevant and will form the basis of a revised Implementation Plan, to be published in due course.
Future Fisheries Management Strategy - The discussion phase of a paper on the Future of Sea Fisheries Management ended in July 2019, following a series of successful stakeholder events. The analysis from this phase will now inform the development of a wider Future Fisheries Management Strategy due for publication later in 2020 and a consultation paper on specific policies will be published around the same time. The strategy will also consider the impacts of future climate change on Scotland's fisheries.
SME Loan Fund and Resource Efficient Scotland Support Service - In addition to specific packages of support for businesses during COVID-19, the Scottish Government's Resource Efficient Scotland Programme continues to support small- and medium-sized Scottish enterprises (SMEs) through the funded SME Loan Scheme. The scheme provides bespoke advice and support to SMEs in implementing energy and resource efficiency measures allowing for a reduction in energy consumption, carbon output and resource costs to businesses.
How the Adaptation Scotland programme is supporting this outcome
Adaptation Scotland's climate ready business guidance is available online and provides businesses with advice on how to adapt to climate change. The programme also sponsors an Adapting Scotland VIBES award to encourage and recognise business innovation around climate change adaptation.
Forestry and Land Scotland, responsible for managing Scotland's national forests and land, is playing a leading role in implementing Adaptation Scotland's Adaptation Capability Framework. This is increasing its capacity to adapt to climate change and enabling other organisations to benefit from its knowledge and experience.
Looking to the future, increasing financial flows into adaptation will be crucial in order to deliver a step change in climate change readiness and resilience. Adaptation Scotland has established an adaptation finance expert working group to support the development and maturation of adaptation financing in Scotland.