Climate change experts have called for an urgent review of preparedness for future flooding and extreme weather in Scotland.
A report warns that more work is needed to ensure the country is prepared to meet the challenges posed by climate change, with flooding highlighted as a particular area of concern.
It warns that global warming is already affecting Scotland, with increases in average temperatures, sea level and annual rainfall all observed.
Average temperatures in Scotland are now around 0.7C higher than they were a century ago, with annual rainfall having increased to a level 13% above the average for the early decades of the 20th century, the report says.
It said: “Widespread flooding in the winter of 2015/16 highlighted the vulnerability of Scotland’s communities and essential infrastructure to extreme weather.
“Action is being taken to reduce the vulnerability of communities to flood risk and to improve infrastructure performance during periods of extreme weather.
“However, there are limited data at a national scale to determine the extent to which progress is being made.
“There is therefore an urgent need for a comprehensive review of whether current actions are sufficient to manage the long-term risk from flooding and extreme weather, the impacts of which can otherwise be expected to increase with climate change.”
The Adaptation Sub-Committee (ASC) of the UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC) praised the Scottish Government’s climate change adaptation programme, published in 2014, as a “positive start” in preparing for global warming, but said that in many areas it was difficult to assess progress due to a lack of data.
The committee has called on the Government to clarify its policies for adapting to climate change and monitor their implementation.
Chairman Lord Krebs, who will give evidence to a Holyrood committee on Tuesday, said: “A lot of action is under way to prepare for the impacts of climate change but it’s not clear what’s being achieved and whether risks are being adequately managed.
“The Scottish Government now needs to develop clearer action plans, and better ways to monitor and review progress, to ensure Scotland is ready for the climate-related challenges ahead.”
Among the committee’s other recommendations is a call for continued effort to restore degraded habitats such as peatland and native woodland, further action to tackle river and loch pollution, a reduction in “damaging” fishing practices, and better monitoring and evaluation of how extreme weather affects the health and social care system.
SNP MSP Graeme Dey, convener of Holyrood’s Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee, said: “Whilst we’re making good progress in tackling climate change, its impacts are being experienced in communities across Scotland.
“Today’s report sets out some of the good work taking place to prepare Scotland for the impacts of climate change. However, the CCC is clear that more work is needed to monitor and assess the progress being made in this area.”