SEPA's position on climate change
We recognises that climate change is the greatest threat to
the future of the planet’s ecosystems, with significant
socio-economic consequences for humankind.
SEPA's role in addressing climate change
We have a key role in helping Scotland limit and adapt to
climate change. We must also adapt to climate change and
reduce our own emissions.
Our five year climate change plan sets out our role in
climate change and actions for the next five years to further
integrate climate change across the organisation. The actions fall
into six key areas:
- Monitoring and analysis
- Advice to operators
- Greening SEPA
- Informing and influencing
- Communciating information
Climate Change Plan 2013 – 2018
We are currently in the process of preparing our new
Climate change plan. This will build upon the 2008 -
2012 plan, and set out our vision for climate change for
the next five years and the strategic work areas to deliver it. We
aim to publish our new plan by the end of December
In accordance with the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act
2005, we have considered whether the new plan requires to be
subject to strategic environmental assessment (SEA). After
undergoing a screening process, we concluded that the 2013 -
2018 Climate change plan will not lead to significant environmental
effects and therefore a SEA is not required. Our conclusions
are outlined in the formal determination notice and
Our 2008 - 2012 climate change Plan was subject to a
Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) as part of its
preparation. This was required under the Environmental
Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005. The SEA helped us to
understand the environmental effects of the plan and allowed for
improvements to be made throughout the preparation process. The
Environmental Report explains in detail the findings of the SEA. As
the plan has now been formally adopted, we are required to explain
how we have taken account of the SEA process in a “SEA
We have an important role in supporting Scottish Government
legislation on climate change. The Climate Change (Scotland) Act
2009 places duties on the public sector to deliver progress on
climate change. Guidance issued on the Act identifies us as a major
player and sets out how we should report on the duties.
We have published our first report on how we are delivering on
The report sets out action taken in 2011 – 2012 under the
• Governance, leadership and management
arrangements for climate change action and confirmation of the
nominated senior management champion.
• Reductions in relation to SEPA’s direct greenhouse gas
• Emissions arising from exercising our broader functions and
the actions being taken to address these.
• Actions taken to assess the risks of climate change impacts
and work undertaken with others on adapting to the impacts of
• Examples of partnership working.
• Climate change communications – raising awareness and
This report shows that we have made considerable progress in
meeting the duties. In particular, implementation of our climate
change plan has enabled us to address climate change by embedding
action across the organisation.
We will continue to publish annual statements explaining the
actions we are taking to contribute to the reduction of greenhouse
gas emissions, prepare for a changing climate, and act
Four agency statement – Action on climate change
SEPA, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), Forestry Commission
Scotland and Historic Scotland are all government funded
organisations with responsibilities for different aspects of
Scotland’s environment and heritage. We have come together to make
a joint statement on climate change.
How do we know it's happening?
Climate change is happening. There is mounting evidence of
fundamental alterations to the key elements of our climate system
as a result of human activities. Left unchecked these changes will
accelerate, with significant consequences for our environment,
economy and society.
"The Scientific evidence is now
overwhelming: climate change presents very serious global risks and
it demands an urgent global response." The Economics of
Climate Change, October 2006: Stern
The pace and signs of climate change varies across the globe,
but eventually everyone will either be affected directly or
indirectly by climate change. Flooding and drought are obvious
direct threats, and these can have indirect impacts such
as higher food prices as a result of crop damage.
One of the most iconic images of climate change is the collapse
of ice-shelves in the polar regions, but there is evidence of
change across the globe, including dramatic shifts in the range and
abundance of plants and animals, and noticeable changes in the
length and pattern of the seasons.
Climate change in Scotland
In Scotland, climate change is evident from observed changes in
temperature, rainfall and snow cover. These changes are causing
significant shifts in the growing, breeding and migration seasons,
as well as species abundance and diversity. Higher river flows are
leading to flood risks and sea level rise is causing coastal
Left unchecked, climate change will accelerate. The use of
fossil fuels, a growing demand for energy and increased
deforestation will escalate emissions of carbon dioxide to
potentially irreversible levels. Uncertainties in the scientific
understanding of global warming do not warrant a ‘wait and see’
attitude and there is much that we can do now that makes both
environmental and economic sense.
Scotland and other developed countries must seize the
opportunity to take the lead in:
- developing new, clean, energy-efficient technologies;
- helping developing countries take a greener path to economic
- adopting adaptation measures to improve our resilience to the
unavoidable impacts of climate change.
All of this can be done in a cost-effective manner that will
create business and employment opportunities and improve our health
We are also a member of the 2020 Climate Group,
a unique response from Scottish business leaders, the
government, the public sector and NGOs to meeting the
challenge of Scotland's ambitious climate change target – a 42%
reduction in emissions from 1990 by 2020. Further information on
the group is available through the 2020 Climate
Still need convincing?
For further information, please visit
Climate monitoring and data sets
And for an explanation on natural variability, weather and
climate, please visit this
press release from MET Office
Confused by conflicting accounts of climate change in the media
To read more about the debate please visit Climate