Scottish ministers under fire as report highlights climate action failures and future risks

Scottish ministers have come under fire after a damning new report found action to tackle climate change had stalled in Scotland and warned that people businesses and important infrastructure could be at risk due to a failure to adequately prepare for ongoing and worsening impacts of global warming.

In a new report analysing Scotland’s Adaptation Programme, which outlines plans to tackle the environmental crisis, the Climate Change Committee (CCC), independent advisers to the Scottish and UK governments, said measures to adapt to critical impacts such as wetter winters and rising sea levels are falling short.

It concluded that further climate change effects in Scotland are now inevitable, no matter how rapidly worldwide greenhouse gas emissions are reduced.

The average temperature in Scotland has already risen by 0.5C over the past 30 years, winters have become wetter and sea level has risen.

A damning new report from the Climate Change Committee, independent advisers to the Scottish Government, found action to tackle the environmental crisis has stalled, the country is not prepared for future impacts such as increased flooding and heatwaves and the risks to people, businesses, nature and infrastructure. Picture: Michael Gillen

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The CCC report warns that future changes will affect “every corner of Scotland”.

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It outlines a number of failings, including no credible plan to adapt farmlands, peatland restoration falling below targets, lack of flood preparation and shortfalls in protection of marine life and seabirds.

Ports, airports, telecoms and digital systems could also be at risk due to a lack of weather-resilience in the energy system, while increasing hot weather is not being addressed in building strategies and there are no plans to deal with a rise in pests and diseases.

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Plans are also needed to manage coastal erosion and reduce water usage, the report advises.

Baroness Brown, chair of the CCC’s Adaptation Committee, said: “We commend the Scottish Government on its vision for a climate-ready Scotland, but the reality is that action is not happening at the scale or pace required.

“In most sectors, including the natural and built environments, health, infrastructure and business, action has stalled.

“Without a renewed sense of urgency, the significant changes we are already seeing in Scotland today will have impacts on all areas of Scottish society and nature in the years to come.

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“Scotland needs to up its game by kick-starting delivery; introducing clear, measurable targets; improving monitoring and evaluation of climate risks and ensuring greater accountability for government – it has some examples of good practice to build on.”

Scottish cabinet secretary for net zero, energy and transport Michael Matheson said: “We accept that more needs to be done.

"This is a global challenge and we are not alone in needing to accelerate progress.

“We will continue to deliver the 170 policies and proposals in our current Adaptation Programme and also look for additional actions we can take to address the highest-priority areas identified by the committee.”

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Opposition politicians condemned the findings.

“This is a damning indictment of the SNP-Green government’s atrocious record on the environment,” said Colin Smyth, Scottish Labour’s net zero spokesperson.

He accused the SNP of “hollow rhetoric and gesture politics” and said the Greens were “no longer worthy of the name”.

“There is no time to waste,” he said. “We need a real plan now to reach net zero, deliver a jobs-first transition and build a greener Scotland.”Liam Kerr, Scottish Conservative shadow secretary for the brief, added: “Not only have we missed green target after green target under this government, but the SNP has failed to prepare for the immediate effects of climate change close to home.”

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