Response 370849294

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Questions

1. Do you agree with our outcome-based approach to adaptation in Scotland?

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Ticked Yes
No
Unsure
Any comments:
We welcome the alignment of an outcomes-based approach with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Such an approach should help alignment of policy and action and with other evolving strategies. For example, broadly, the outcomes are consistent with those of the draft Scottish Government Environment Strategy. Where appropriate, that consistency should be ensured between the final version of the Adaptation Programme and the Environment Strategy.

However, there is a risk with an outcomes based approach is that specific outcomes may be achieved in the short-term, creating a false sense of security, but not removing the causes of the problems to be faced over the long-term. Thus, adaptation outcomes need to be tied to mitigation requirements.

A further concern is that the range of potential futures is large therefore the range of potential adaptations and pathways to achieve identified outcomes is also large. Some pathways may take unexpected courses, or have short-term costs for achieving longer term gains. Developing strategies and policies for such a range of adaptations will be challenging, as will the design of suitable means for the monitoring and evaluation of pathways towards outcomes.

A further question arises as to the level of impact to which to adapt. For example, should the adaptation be to the ‘worse can scenario’?

The range in possible climate futures can be projected and accounted for reasonably well at the Scotland and UK levels. However, it is much harder to place a global context which would guide adaptation requirements. Scotland will need to adapt to internal impacts, but impacts elsewhere may be of greater significance economically (e.g. affect our trading partners, sources of raw materials and markets for products).

With respect to Natural Environment (Outcome 5), there would be benefit in increasing the focus on referring to healthy ecosystems that are able to function under climate change.

2. Do you agree that a National Forum on Adaptation should be established to facilitate discussion on climate change adaptation?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Unsure
Any comments:
It will be important that the remit ensures consideration of a global context, not just Scotland. The National Forum should be transdisciplinary, with the identification of interests across the public and private sectors, civic society, and research communities. The Forum should comprise participants with relevant expertise. Therefore, its composition should be reviewed at regular intervals to ensure it remains contemporary, and has access to ideas, technologies and social groups of emerging importance.

Adaptation should not be seen in isolation. There needs to be close integration between mitigation measures and adaptation, e.g. people and businesses adapting to mitigation regulations and impacts.

The remit of the forum should include consideration of what ‘resilience’ actually means. This is a term that can be interpreted in multiple ways. A National Forum should be clear about its choice of definition, and what the outcomes based approach aims to achieve.

It should develop a Communication Strategy, designed to guide the two-way exchange of knowledge and dissemination of information to audiences in policy, practice, business, communities and research.

The James Hutton Institute (www.hutton.ac.uk) would welcome the opportunity to participate in such a Forum, either representing itself or through the Scottish Environment, Food and Agriculture Research Institutes (SEFARI).

3. Do you agree that climate change adaptation behaviours should be included in the Programme?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Unsure
Any comments:
We welcome the inclusion of adaptation behaviours in the Programme.

Changing behaviours will be key to achieving both mitigation and adaptation, requiring careful and clear communication of what is changes are required (e.g. adoption of best practices in land management). However, there is an information gap which needs to be addressed about what adaptation is, what might be required, and what options are available.

In the draft Programme some of the adaptation behaviours boxes do not seem to align with the preceding policy lists and associated tables of risks. For example, for Outcome 3 (inclusive economy), the range of adaptation behaviours (page 34) could be broader. In the draft document, four of five behaviours are directed at agriculture whereas the policies listed include topics such as forestry, fishing and planning. Adaptive behaviours relevant under this heading could include new business opportunities around “Eco-design” and the circular economy where new products are designed with aims of remanufacturing, repurposing or recycling. This would place a greater emphasis on the recovery of “critical raw materials”, none of which feature in the draft Adaptation Programme.

Most of the adaptation behaviours identified relate to the activities of individuals, including those listed under communities. Behavioural change could include collective actions by social innovations by communities which could be linked to land reform (e.g. community buy-outs accompanied by community responses to flood risk planning; changes in land uses which lead to reductions in flood risk).

The potential for delivering multiple benefits through adaptation could be included. For example, reference could be made to farmers as environmental stewards and key actors in adapting to climate change, including mitigating risks of flooding whilst also increasing biodiversity and habitat networks, thus outcomes 1 and 5. Such emerging multiple uses of land also include the development of agri-renewables and the evolution of farming systems in line with the principles of a circular economy.

Some measures appear limited and simplistic, i.e. focused on a few direct impacts from changes to the geophysical conditions for farming. One can expect changes in commodity prices due to climate change either affecting costs of raw materials imported to Scotland, or on raw materials produced in Scotland. Farmers would benefit from diversifying the commodities they produce and their sources of income (e.g. through on-farm diversification activities). Income stabilisation and risk management strategies are important, and although relevant reference is made in the text it does not appear to be represented in the associated Adaptation Box.

4. Do you agree that an integrated approach should be taken to monitoring and evaluation?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Unsure
Any comments:
An integrated approach should inform planning and implementation of adaptation requirements over the long-term. Monitoring and evaluation of short-term changes may not provide evidence of a need to move towards a Sustainable Development Goal based approach (e.g. if indicators focus on maintaining a current economic model).

The approaches monitoring and evaluation should build in multiple temporal scale indicators. This will reduce the risk of the approaches being favourable towards short-term achievements but misleading when it comes to achieving long-term goals.

The monitoring and evaluation of adaptation should be broadly based and comprehensive in scope. It should be well integrated with indicators and the monitoring and evaluation of mitigation efforts.

5. Do you agree with our long term vision for adapting to climate change in Scotland?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Unsure
Any comments:
The long-term vision is less well articulated in the documents. It could benefit from certain weaknesses being addressed.

One such weakness in the long-term vision is that it does not provide sufficient planning for the impacts of large-scale global events driven by climate change (e.g. mass refugee movement, national food shortages, water conflicts). The Programme should include greater consideration of extreme scenarios, for which there is a high cost/benefit ratio to there being plans in place. Additional thought should also be given to freshwater resources and the application of principles of the circular economy.

Reference is made to ‘our built and natural places, supporting infrastructure, economy and society’ but without an indication of the scale to which these might need to adapt. There is a good case to be made to adapt not just to climate change but also to the consequences of other drivers of change (primarily economy driven), e.g. biodiversity loss, energy consumption and generation etc. So, when developing the adaptation framework there is an opportunity to take a more holistic approach.

The list of outcomes from the adaptation programme (p. 13) includes ensuring that “our international networks are adaptable to climate change”. However, there is no mention of the indirect impacts of climate change in the introduction to the document, the section “Scotland’s changing climate” (p.6), or in the excerpt from the Independent Assessment 2016 (Box, p. 8). Such effects may be significantly more important that the direct impacts listed (increased temperature, annual rainfall, sea level etc.).

The basis of this observation is Scotland’s dependence upon global trade flows for food, materials and medicines, and its reliance on international markets for its products. This means that there should be an expectation of consequences due to significant impacts of climate change elsewhere on the globe. These consequences can be expected to have knock-on effects on land use and ecosystem services.

The following examples expand on this point:

Example 1: Population and land use: Severe climate impacts elsewhere in the world are expected to result in increased migration, which would be increasingly focused on temperate zones as other parts of the world become less habitable. Population growth is a direct driver of increased consumption (of energy, food, water), and land for housing and services (urbanisation). Since the best quality agricultural land in Scotland is often also the most suitable for building, trade-offs between agriculture and urban development and transport infrastructure may become critical.

Example 2: Energy and land use: Energy availability and pricing affects agriculture, both directly, through growth of crops for biofuels, and indirectly, since greenhouse crops in northern latitudes are highly energy intensive. It also has major implications for the balance of imported versus locally grown produce, due to the energy cost of transport. In a scenario of energy scarcity, more land would need to be dedicated to local food production, and cultivation of energy intensive greenhouse crops such as soft fruits could become inviable.

Example 3: Land and emissions. As greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase, land use and ecosystems can play a more important role than they do at present. Existing forest cover already provides significant carbon sequestration services, so forest expansion can increase this in future. In addition, land management is crucial to storing carbon, for example, by minimizing tillage. Trade-offs between land as a provider of climate services and land for agriculture are likely to become increasingly relevant as climate impacts worsen.

6. Does the Programme identify the right outcomes for Scotland over the next five years?

Please select one item
Yes
No
Ticked Unsure
Any comments:
Broadly, the programme seem appropriate. However, without explicit focus on indirect impacts (see above) some of the outcomes will be difficult to achieve. The expected impacts could be redefined include indirect impacts, and the addition of an associated outcome that will target them explicitly.

One gap which merits consideration is that of the need for an increased sense of urgency. As noted in response to Question 2 (National Forum), there is little in terms of how the programme will assist in the communication of risk. Whilst the aspect of behaviours is considered (Q3), they are likely to change if people understand risks better. Currently, a fundamental issue is in communicating risks (e.g. converting a 1.5°C temperature increase into risks that have meaning to people), thus there is an opportunity for the Adaptation programme to include interpretations of projections into risks.

7. Are there any additional policies that should be included in the outcomes?

Any comments:
Each outcome has a comprehensive coverage of policies. The approach draws together existing policies and not the creation of new ones. Whilst this is the appropriate approach, there is merit in having an overarching policy that ties in with the Climate Change Bill.

The risk, under the current programme, of trying to draw upon existing policies and initiatives is that it is ad hoc, and does not work towards a specific strategy. A tightly defined strategy may not be feasible, but a structure which is too loose may be insufficient, relying on good will and effort, rather than a legislated imperative. An over-arching policy may be not be practical for the current programme period, but there is an opportunity to signal a step towards embedding one in the next round.

Consideration should be given to the inclusion of additional policies or policy areas of relevance, notably:

(i) those that involve invoking a state of emergency and nation-wide mobilisation of emergency and military personnel which could arise under a number a of eventualities. For example, social unrest due to food or fuel price spikes, a sudden influx of numerous climate refugees, food and water distribution and breakdown of supplies.

(ii) the Scottish Government Strategy on a Circular Economy, which would provide a link to new business opportunities;

(iii) in addition to the reference to empowering communities, there should be greater connectivity with the land reform agenda and strategies of the Scottish Land Commission. This could identify the importance of community organised activities and social innovation in responding to societal challenges;

(iv) the Scottish Planning Bill and associated initiatives. Extending the Place Standard and the Place Principle, greater cross-referencing could be made to community involvement in the planning process, and evolution of the tools available to inform development planning (e.g. work by the Scottish Government Digital planning Team).

(v) The resilience of fresh water quality and quantity is critical for rural communities, and fresh water is critical in the natural environment. Catchment management should be recognised as a major management strategy for climate change adaptation. urban environments, farming, energy systems and industry. These are largely missing from the draft Programme.

Strategic Environmental Assessment

8. What are your views on the accuracy and scope of the information used to describe the SEA environmental baseline set out in the Environmental Report?

Please give details of additional relevant sources.
No response.

9. What are your views on the predicted environmental effects as set out in the Environmental Report?

What are your views on the predicted environmental effects as set out in the Environmental Report?
No response.

10. What are your views on the findings of the SEA and the proposals for mitigation and monitoring of the environmental effects set out in the Environmental Report?

What are your views on the findings of the SEA and the proposals for mitigation and monitoring of the environmental effects set out in the Environmental Report?
No response.

About you

Are you responding as an individual or an organisation?

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Organisation
The James Hutton Institute