Climate change adaptation and building resilience
What is climate adaptation?
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) defines adaptation as: "adjustments in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities".
Climate adaptation has two aspects:
- Adapting to present climate and weather
- Making changes based on future projections in climate.
Why do we need to adapt?
Not only is climate adaptation required even if we manage to reduce our emissions and reach net zero in Highland, but the Highland Council also has a legal duty as part of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act to adapt.
We are already seeing the effects of climate change in Highland through extreme weather events such as storms, period of high temperatures, and intense rainfall which is causing more frequent flooding, wildfires, and landslips. These impacts are predicted to continue and intensify over the coming years.
"Did you know the 10 hottest years in Scotland have all occurred since 1997?"
– Adaptation Scotland
These changes are already impacting people, infrastructure, and Council services across Highlands. We need to take early action to reduce risks and increase resilience.
Take a look at some of the examples of impacts from the last couple of years:
- Flooding – Dingwall, July 2019
- Landslip – Kylerhea, Isle of Skye and Raasay, December 2019
- Storm Brendan – Highland-wide, January 2020
- Water scarcity – Highland-wide, August 2021
- Wildfires – Kyle of Lochalsh, April 2022
- Heatwave – Highland-wide, July 2022
What impacts could we see in Highland?
The Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Programme identifies some key consequences that may occur due to climate change:
- The productivity of our agriculture
- The occurrence of pests and disease
- The health of our natural environment
- The security of our food supply
- The increased risk of flooding
- And many more…
Find out more about the consequences at the Adaptation Scotland website.
What is the Highland Council doing?
Climate change is now identified as a risk on the Corporate Risk Register.
The Highland Council has a number of services which support individuals, communities, and businesses in extreme situations. This includes our Emergency Planners and Resilience Officers, Roads Officers, Ward Managers, and Amenity Service team.
We are also an active partner in the Highland Adapts initiative, which is a partnership approach to building a climate-ready Highland. They are bringing Highland communities, businesses, land managers and public sector together to allow transformational action. You can find out more about Highland Adapts on their website.
We have also started work to develop a Corporate Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan which will use the Adaptation Scotland’s Capability Framework for public sector. The Climate Change and Energy team will be working with Council officers and Members to develop a comprehensive plan which has resilience at the core.
Resources and extra information
- Highland Council – Emergency Contacts
- Highland Council – Flooding advice
- Highland Council – Winter Power Cuts
- Highland Council – General Emergency Plan
- Adaptation Scotland
- Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Programme
- Highland Adapts
- Met Office - UK Climate Projections (UKCP)
- Evidence for the third UK Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA3) – Summary for Scotland
- Pending Works Schedules
- ECO Flex Documents
- Examples of completed works
- Energy Efficient Scotland: Area Based Scheme
- External wall Insulation case studies
- Renewables case study
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) Environmental Health Food Business Advice
- Pre-Packed Foods Labelling Advice
- Growing Our Future - A Community Food Growing Strategy for Highland
- Planning guidance
- Committee paper - item 11
- EV Infrastructure Vision
- Caol and Lochyside FPS Community Liaison
- 2021 Highland Climate Change Conference Downloads
- Strategic Tourism Infrastructure Development Plan
- Food Safety Guidance
- Strathpuffer 2023 Access Exemption Order
- Scotways Newsletter Summer 2023
- Highland Nature Biodiversity Action Plan 2021 to 2026