Climate Adaptation

In this page:

Climate change is here.

“Beyond doing everything we can to cut emissions and slow the pace of global warming, we must adapt to climate consequences so we can protect ourselves and our communities.”

The United Nations

As our climate changes we need to prepare for its impacts. This is what the term climate adaptation describes – the process of responding to the changes and increasing our resilience to its effects in our day to day lives, both now and in the future.

Adaptation action is possible, desired, and underway. The majority of people in the UK are concerned about climate change, and together we can act to make positive differences to the health of people and the planet, to pass on a healthy world to future generations.

“Adapting to climate change will be necessary regardless of how much we manage to cut our carbon emissions. This is because historic emissions have already changed our climate and will continue to do so in the decades to come.”

Adaptation Scotland

Climate adaptation and climate mitigation work alongside each other (and, as you see below, often overlap). Adaptation focuses on adapting our systems, places and behaviours for the impacts we are already seeing; while mitigation takes steps to reduce emissions that contribute to climate change, in order to limit future effects.

Image Image Credit: Cumbrae Community Climate Action Plan https://carbonneutralcumbrae.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/DIGITAL-Cumbrae-CCAP-Final.pdf

“We basically have three choices: mitigation, adaptation and suffering. We’re going to do some of each. The question is what the mix is going to be. The more mitigation we do, the less adaptation will be required and the less suffering there will be.”

John P Holdren, Senior Advisor to President Obama on Science and Technology

The way climate change impacts are experienced is different for different places, individuals, and communities – so the ways we adapt always need to respond to the specific situation. This is one of the many reasons why we at SCCAN believe that it’s vital that communities are in the driving seat on plans to prepare for and cope with climate impacts.

Some examples of adaptation steps that respond to direct impacts of climate change might include making changes to homes and building to be flood prepared, planting or preserving trees for shade or soil erosion protection, and making changed to crops grown to secure food sustainability in wetter or warmer weather.

There are also ways we may need to adapt to what are known as indirect systemic risks – these are impacts to people, infrastructure, health, the economy, societal systems and ecosystems that stem, or ‘cascade’, from the consequence of those direct impacts.

“Addressing climate change may seem like a massive challenge on top of all other things you are already working on as a community – it is complex, interconnected and it isn’t always easy to know where to start. But it is both crucial and possible to build resilience and adapt to the changing climate whilst tackling other important issues in your community such as housing and neighbourhoods, getting around, and skills and employment.

Whatever kind of community you are, there are things you can do to build resilience and prepare for climate change and at the same time make your place healthier, safer and more comfortable to live in for human and other creatures alike.”

Adaptation Scotland

Here at SCCAN our adaptation work focuses on increasing community resilience and knowledge of how to respond to climate change. So how can you get involved and be supported?

Share your knowledge

SCCAN are mapping community climate adaptation work across Scotland to gain an understanding of the different activities being undertaken on community climate adaptation and resilience. We realise local and community-led work may not be well known outside the immediate locality.

We would love to hear from any organisation – no matter how small or large – who are engaged in community-level preparation for climate impacts.

Please get in touch with our Adaptation Programme Lead, Rebecca Gibbs, on rebecca@sccan.scot

Listen to an interview where our Story Weaver, Kaska Hempel, talks to Rebecca Gibbs from SCCAN about rollerblading for sanity, turning NET zero into NOT zero and the invitation to get into climate adaptation planning with us.

Learn more about supporting your local community in adaptation action

Explore the links below to learn more about how you can get started in your local place and community.

Adaptation ‘Whirlwind’ Presentation

A short, interactive presentation that can be used by any group that wants to better understand the impacts of climate change for their community and raise awareness of potential actions, from Adaptation Scotland.

Community Climate Adaptation Routemap

A practical ‘route map’ style guide for communities to adapt to climate change, from Adaptation Scotland

Hazard and Hope Video Series

Hazard and Hope’s ‘Our Flood Resilient Home’ video series tells the stories of different ways in which people have adapted their homes to be more flood resilient.

Create an emergency kit for your home

A guide and checklist to creating a home emergency kit and plan, from Ready Scot

Local Climate Adaptation Tool

An online local climate adaptation tool that shows predicted impacts of climate change at local authority region scale, and what adaptations could be considered

Scottish Flood Hazard and Risk Information

Scottish Environment Protection Agency Flood Maps Homepage, where you can check for long term flood risk in an area in Scotland and find out where to get information to manage your flood risk ​

Flood Mary

Flood Mary’s low tech flood resilience suggestions

Scottish Community Safety Network

Accessible Zine on Climate Change & Community Safety

Weather / adaptation Twitter list

SCCAN have put together a severe weather warning Twitter/X list. Feel free to follow/share the list.

Climate Ready Clyde

Sniffer, in partnership with Climate Ready Clyde, hosted an event for communities and community organisations in Glasgow City Region, supported by Adaptation Scotland and local authorities. The aim of the event was to create a foundation to support more meaningful, wider community participation in place-based climate adaptation and resilience.

Highland Adapts

Bringing our communities, businesses, land managers and public sector together to facilitate transformational action towards a prosperous, climate-ready Highland.

Weather / adaptation Twitter list

SCCAN have put together a severe weather warning Twitter/X list. Feel free to follow/share the list.

Maintain individual and community wellbeing

Do you feel worried by climate impacts and the issues discussed here?

SCCAN recognises that the real world effects of climate change have significant impacts on day to day ways of life, and mental and physical health and wellbeing.

SCCAN runs Active Hope sessions to support people struggling with eco-anxiety.  If you are interested for yourself and/or for a group, please contact us at info@sccan.scot.  

The Climate Psychology Alliance are one organisation that provides support to individuals and groups struggling with eco-distress and offers safe spaces to share emotions surrounding the climate crisis.

Read our latest news about Climate Adaptation in Scotland

  • Next steps for climate adaptation policy in Scotland: SCCAN Roundup
    At the end of May, SCCAN was invited to speak at the Scotland Policy Conferences keynote seminar called “Next steps for climate adaptation policy in Scotland”.  Emma Yule, who is…
  • Funny Weather
    The ‘longer-in-the-tooth’ folk in the climate world might remember the zine Funny Weather: everything you didn’t want to know about climate change but should probably find out from 2006.  Back in…
  • Everyday Changemakers: Rebecca Gibbs, SCCAN
    Our Story Weaver, Kaska Hempel, talks to Rebecca Gibbs from SCCAN about rollerblading for sanity, turning NET zero into NOT zero and the invitation to get into climate adaptation planning…