Facing Up to Climate Change: 10 Years On | Climate change and environment

Professor Des Thompson FRSE, NatureScot, gives an outline of one of the RSE follow-up papers to their 2011 inquiry, Facing Up To Climate Change.

Climate change poses a significant threat both to communities at risk of being flooded and to Scotland’s plants and animals. All three types of flooding (adjacent to rivers, along the coastline and in towns and cities) are likely to become both more frequent and costly. Solutions will include limited engineered defences alongside more sustainable measures promoted by government, in partnership with individuals at risk. Climate change means that we will all have to learn to live with floods. Government will need to increase spending on flooding infrastructure, while individuals will need to take more personal responsibility for making their properties more resilient.

The threat posed by climate change to plants and animals extends from mountain tops down to the bottom of the sea-bed. It is likely that some individual species will disappear and new ones will emerge, but the majority will find a way to cope. Habitats that enable Scotland’s plants and animals to thrive will also likely look different and be found in different locations. Landscapes will have quite different habitat associations, and some habitats as we know them will be lost locally.

In all cases, the impacts of climate change will occur alongside additional threats due to pollution, the more intensive use of land and sea, and the wider ways we use Nature’s bounty. Nature-based solutions can mitigate many of the anticipated threats arising from climate change. Success for particular species at given locations will depend on mobilising the efforts of individual citizen scientists and community groups, many working within environmental NGOs or with creative enterprises. At the strategic level, reviving Scotland’s biodiversity will require a major uplift in investment by Government in work to revive nature, and not least in the organisations and partnerships best placed to implement this.

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This publication is part of a follow-up series to the 2011 RSE inquiry, Facing Up to Climate Change.

A lot has happened over the subsequent ten years – and at the same time, not enough. While Scotland has made some progress towards meeting its world-leading emissions reduction targets, certain sectors remain in need of concerted and integrated action.

Facing up to climate change: 10 years on