Scotland's public sector bodies will need to adapt to the effects of climate change in the future, according to a research report published today.

The Executive-funded Business Risks of Climate Change to the Public Sector in Scotland research looked at the extent of risk of climate change to five public sector bodies in Scotland and considered what they must do to adapt to future change.

The changes predicted present significant challenges for all five organisations: For Scottish Environment Protection Agency, there are important issues relating to its responsibility to issue flood warnings, and to improve water quality For Scottish Natural Heritage, there are concerns regarding loss of species and habitats where there is low adaptation potential and high vulnerability.

For Scottish Water, there will be significant implications from the changes in average rainfall and heavy rainfall events - these are especially important given the large infrastructure requirements in the water supply industry.

For VisitScotland, there will be potential downsides, for example through the decline in skiing, but there will also be potential adaptation opportunities for tourism growth.

For the Forestry Commission Scotland, which serves as the Executive's forestry department, the long rotation lengths of most forest plantations (typically 50 to over 100 years), and the impact of climate on operations will clearly be important.

The study found that all five organisations should ensure that climate change is added to the corporate risk register and should consider incorporating climate change in planning new facilities and in all corporate plans/ risk management strategies.

It also suggested that all five organisations should initially focus on raising awareness of climate change and adaptation as the first stage in building adaptive capacity, both within its organisation and with external stakeholders.

Finally the research also called on the Executive to provide a policy framework for adaptation, defining what successful adaptation is and to promote and coordinate research on impacts. A UK-wide consultation on an Adaptation Policy Framework was launched last week as part of a more strategic approach to climate change adaptation.

The study was undertaken by a multi-disciplinary team led by AEA Technology Environment in collaboration with Metroeconomica, HR Wallingford, Risk Solutions, and the Environmental Change Unit (Oxford University).

The UKCIP02 Scenarios show important climatic changes for Scotland in future years. There is a growing trend of warmer, wetter, and cloudier winters, and warmer, drier summers, combined with more extreme weather (such as heavy rainfall events). For example, under the high scenario, Scotland could be (on average) 2.5oC to 4oC warmer than present by 2080, with winter precipitation increasing by up to 35% in the south, east and north east, and summer precipitation decreasing by up to 50% in the south, central and east of Scotland.

The project objectives were: To identify key climate change impacts for each organisation, using the UKCIP02 scenarios and a review of the organisation's policy and operational responsibilities To undertake a risk assessment for identified impacts (including threats and adaptation opportunities arising from climate change), and to quantify these risks as appropriate.

To devise, using a participative approach, adaptation management strategies for each of the risks identified above To help each organisation to put in place the capacity to further develop and implement adaptation strategies beyond the life of this project To recommend further research on climate change adaptation This project was commissioned by the Scotland and Northern Ireland Forum for Environmental Research. Electronic copies of the report are available on the SNIFFER website (code: CC02)


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