Scottish islands: data overview 2023

This report gives a snapshot of Scotland's island-level data as collated in the new Scottish Islands Data Dashboard and draws out key findings relating to each of the strategic objective topic areas set out in the National Islands Plan.

11 Climate Change

Scottish islands have become warmer and sea levels are projected to rise which poses a significant risk for the islands in terms of flooding and contamination of freshwater.

Without significant reductions in the world's carbon emissions, the Scottish islands could see significant sea level rises. Changes in mean sea level are important with respect to coastal flooding and coastal erosion. As sea levels rise, islands may become more vulnerable to flooding due to increased sea level extremes with the potential to affect homes, businesses and infrastructure. Seawater flooding can contaminate freshwater aquifers, thus reducing the supply of fresh drinking water available on the islands.

The Scottish islands have also experienced significant increases in average high temperatures. The Scottish island Local Authorities have made significant progress in the production of renewable electricity.

Projected Sea Level Rise by 2100 in meters (SSP2-4.5: Intermediate Levels of Carbon emissions)
Graph showing projected sea level rise by 2100 in metres. Highest level is 0.44 in Lewis (Stornaway) and Shetland (Lerwick).

Source: Sea Level Projection Tool, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (2021)

The Carbon Neutral Islands (CNI) project is a Scottish Government commitment aimed at supporting six islands to become carbon neutral by 2040. The Carbon Neutral Islands project provides an opportunity to demonstrate the low carbon energy potential of islands as hubs of innovation in relation to renewable energy and climate change resilience. This will also positively impact on island economies, facilities and general wellbeing by allowing for reinvestment in the communities. The six islands will act as catalysts for decarbonisation across all Scottish islands.



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