Business Risks of Climate Change to the Public Sector in Scotland
CC02 Final Report
CC02Appendices Report

November 2005


Background to research

The IPCC Third Assessment Report presents an increasing body of observations that show a warming world and changes in global and regional climate systems.  It also predicts potentially significant changes in the climate in future years. 

Much of the policy response to this evidence has focused on mitigation, to reduce the threat of future warming and climate change.  However, given historic and current emissions we are already committed to some level of future climate change. Adaptation moves beyond the analysis of climate change effects, and focuses on risks and opportunities where action needs to be taken to adapt to climate change in the short, medium and longer-term. 

The purpose of this research project has been:

The main focus has been to consider what the public sector must do to adapt to future change. 

Objectives of research 

The project objectives were: 


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 approach was:

Climate Change Scenarios

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 changes predicted in the scenarios present significant risks for all five organisations, for example:

Risks and adaptation opportunities have been prioritised for each organisation, and adaptation options have been drawn up – separating out those that concern strategic, operational and functional activities.  The analysis has identified those options that require early action (or at least early consideration of potential options). 


The tables in the report provide indicative adaptation options that would begin to address the priority risks and adaptation opportunities identified. In most cases these options represent additions or alterations to existing programmes, operations or research agendas, rather than entirely new initiatives. In a number of important areas, these suggestions could be started immediately and at low cost. Many of the adaptation options may also carry ancillary benefits, from strengthening resilience to current weather variability, to increasing awareness of environmental matters in general, to improving monitoring and decision-making procedures, and enhancing staff morale.

A number of areas/options have links between the organisations.  The five organisations already have existing partnerships across a number of areas.  However, the consideration of risks, adaptation opportunities and adaptation plans has highlighted a number of areas where potential synergies or conflicts exist, and partnerships could be strengthened.  The most important issues identified relate to:


The study has made a number of suggestions and recommendations:

Partnership and communication are critical to this process.

Key words: climate change, impacts, adaptation

Copies of the two reports are available in hard copy:
CC02 Final Report at £25.00
CC02 Appendices Report at £25.00
Each report is available separately in electronic format at £20.00 + VAT
All prices less 20% to FWR members.

N.B. The reports are available for download from the SNIFFER Website