Climate Change Impacts


Changes to our climate threaten people and ecosystems.


In addition to long-term disruption to weather patterns, climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events – resulting in droughts, flooding and damage to ecosystems and infrastructure. This impacts global food and water supply, the livelihoods of millions, and is already displacing people in vulnerable communities.


The concept of ‘Climate Justice’ acknowledges that those who contributed least to climate change, are also those who are now most vulnerable to its impacts. In relation to this, the Scottish Government’s vision for net zero supports a ‘Just Transition’ towards a climate resilient economy that aims to deliver fairness and tackle inequality and injustice.


“To ensure… the benefits of climate change action are shared widely, while the costs do not unfairly burden those least able to pay, or whose livelihoods are directly or indirectly at risk as the economy shifts and changes.”  (Scottish Government Just Transition Commission, 2021)


As temperatures increase, sea water is expanding and ice across our planet is melting. This is causing sea levels to rise. Many coastal cities and whole islands are at risk of being flooded by the rise in sea levels.


In Scotland, our coastal communities are also at risk from flooding. And climate change and extreme weather events have already impacted many other aspects of our natural environment and our society, including buildings and property, health, agriculture, forestry, transport, water resources and energy demand. The Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Programme identifies some of the key consequences for Scotland that may occur from the impacts of climate change.


Image: Hawick Flooding, Keep Scotland Beautiful. Image from a video taken by Ryan Notman in Hawick while kayaking on River Teviot, 16 February 2020.