How to do it

There is no right and wrong. The essential thing is to start adapting - here's how.

As the climate continues to change, adaptation must be an on-going process and not something to tick off as ‘done’.

It is important to integrate adaptation responses to climate change into core business planning and decision making processes, business continuity, risk management and reporting.  There are elements that contribute to making the process of adapting more effective and efficient.

  • Principles of adaptation
  • Understanding your vulnerability to climate change
  • Risk management
  • Adaptation actions

Principles of adaptation

Scottish Government has identified a series of principles that underpin a sustainable approach to climate adaptation: 

Adaptation should be through actions that build resilience

  • Adaptation should be continuous and responsive to new information
  • Adaptation should be integrated into normal developments and implementation practices.
  • Adaptation should be integrated at an appropriate scale and involve relevant levels of decision making
  • Adaptation must be addressed alongside actions to reduce emissions
  • Adaptation by one sector should not restrict adaptation by other sectors

Proportionate and integrated

The impacts of climate change will vary, from place to place. Some impacts will be felt relatively soon, and others over a much longer time-scale.

Understanding your vulnerability to climate change

A good place to start the adaptation process is to establish your vulnerability to a changing climate. To what extent are your interests affected by the current climate trends and severe weather events?  This information will help in then identifying the risks to your strategic objectives, no matter what type of organisation you are. There is a range of information and tools available to help you to examining actual and potential impacts and their consequences. 

Risk assessment

Climate risk needs to be managed just like any other risk.  Risks include threats but also upside effects – opportunities.  Building climate change into organisation risk assessment and management processes will help to ensure that strategic objectives are met.  There are various approaches to risk management, but common elements involve risk analysis (identification, description and estimation), risk evaluation, options and treatments, monitoring and reporting and dealing with residual risks. Adaptation Scotland’s Adaptation Workbook includes a section on Risk Assessments.

UK Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA) 

The UK’s first Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA) will be published in January 2012, The risk assessment is required by the Climate Change Act 2008 and will draw together evidence and analysis which will enable all UK Administrations to:

  • Understand the level of risk (including opportunities as well as threats) posed by climate change for the UK, where risk is a consideration of the likelihood of an impact and the magnitude of the consequences.
  • Compare the risks posed by a changing climate with other pressures on the Government
  • Prioritise adaptation policy
  • Assess the costs and benefits of adaptation actions

Adaptation actions

Responding to climate change can take different forms, including actions that build adaptive capacity and those that deliver it.

Building adaptive capacity - is about getting the information you need and putting in place the supportive social structures and governance required as a foundation for delivering adaptation actions

Delivering adaptive capacity - implementing actions that will reduce vulnerability to climate risks and exploit opportunities