​Climate Change Adaptation in Scotland

Climate change policy in Scotland responds to both a UK and a Scottish framework. There are two key pieces of legislation: the UK Climate Change Act 2008 and the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009. The UK Act requires a Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA) every five years. It is the basis for adaptation policy in both Scotland and the UK.

The Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Programme (SCCAP)

The Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Programme (SCCAP) addresses the impacts identified for Scotland in the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA). It sets out the Scottish Government’s objectives in relation to adaptation to climate change.

The first Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Programme (SCCAP) was released in May 2014, followed by Climate Ready Scotland: Second Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Programme 2019-2024 which was published in September 2019. The Programme takes an outcomes-based approach, derived from both the UN Sustainable Development Goals and Scotland's National Performance Framework.

Public Bodies Duties

The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 established the Public Bodies Climate Change Duties which came into force on 1 January 2011. It requires that Public Bodies exercise their functions:

  • in a way best calculated to contribute to deliver the Act’s emissions reduction targets;
  • in a way best calculated to deliver any statutory adaptation programme; and
  • in a way that it considers most sustainable.

Part of delivering the adaptation programme involves reporting on adaptation work through the Public Bodies Climate Change Reporting. This was introduced on a voluntary basis in November 2015 and became mandatory to report on an annual basis in 2016.

To support you with the adaptation section of the reports, Adaptation Scotland have developed Scotland Adapts: A Capability Framework for a Climate Ready Public Sector. This guidance document is designed to help you understand what is involved in an adaptation process and support you to make progress with adaptation. The Sustainable Scotland Network (SSN) have also published guidance notes to help Public Bodies complete their reports: Guidance on Completing Public Bodies Climate Change Duties Annual Reports.

Download our one page summary of Adaptation Policy, produced with ClimateXChange

Other policy drivers

Climate change adaptation is supported by a wide range of legislative and policy drivers, including those listed below. For further information download our Legislation and National Policies, Strategies & Plans that relate to Adaptation in Scotland overview document.


  • The Civil Contingencies Act (2004)
  • Planning etc (Scotland) Act 2006
  • Marine (Scotland) Act 2010
  • Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009

Policies and Frameworks

  • National Planning Framework 3 (2014)
  • Scottish Planning Policy (2014)
  • Scottish Soil Framework (2009)

Strategies and plans

  • Flood Risk Management Strategies
  • Local Flood Risk Management Plans
  • Local Development Plans
  • Land Use Strategy

UK Climate Change Risk Assessment

​Climate Change Adaptation at the international level

At COP 21 in Paris, Parties to the UNFCCC reached a landmark agreement to combat…