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Getting prepared to adapt

Climate change is already having an impact on people and businesses in Scotland and beyond. We are seeing this in the form of increased floods, storms, drought, and coastal erosion. Extreme weather events are predicted to become more frequent and intense in the future, especially if we don’t act to reduce our impact.

There is a level of unavoidable climate change, for which we all need to prepare and adapt. 

This page explains what steps you can take to adapt your business to climate change.  

1. What is climate adaptation?

Adjustments in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

It's important to be aware of how changes to the climate will impact Scotland and other countries. It's also important to understand the risk and opportunities any change could bring to your business. Adapting, building in resilience, and reducing risk will all help you to become a climate ready business. 

2. What is an adaptation risk assessment?

Impacts of climate change could affect any area of your business. Undertaking a risk assessment, and creating a risk register, is a good way to start your transition and adaptation planning.

There are four key areas to consider: 

  • Buildings and grounds

    Most buildings have been built to withstand the established climate of Scotland. However, climate change will result in changes to our climate which may require our buildings to be adapted to cope.

  • People

    Climate change, and extreme weather, can lead to disruption for your staff and customers. Assessing how your people may be impacted by climate change will help you put systems in place to ensure disruption is kept to a minimum.

  • Operations

    Business processes, vital equipment, and core activities can be sensitive to climate change. The first step is to understand how climate change can impact on your operations. How will you able to continue to operate and maintain continuity?

  • Supply chain

    Suppliers, producers, and manufacturers are all at risk from climate change. Identify your key products and suppliers and work together to understand how climate change could impact them. This will help build resilience into your supply chain.

What can you do now?

For each area you should look to identify and describe any potential risks that climate change may pose and the result it could have on that area of your business, if it happened.   

Once you have identified a risk, you should look to estimate how much of an influence you have on avoiding or managing the risk, how likely it is to happen, and how big an impact it will have on your business should it occur.   

Remember, where there are risks, there are often opportunities too. Any opportunities should be recorded and managed in the same way.  

3. Start an adaptation risk assessment

Our 4.0 climate adaption workbook provides you with an adaption checklist to help you review key areas of your business, as well as a template for a risk register.

For more information and advice we recommend exploring Adaption Scotland's website and their interactive guidance for businesses to help adapt to the impacts of climate change.

4.0 Climate adaption workbook

Published January 2023

Step by step guide to carrying out an adaptation self-assessment

  1. 1

    Review the adaption checklist

    Have a look at four key areas in the adaption checklist. This will provide some actions and ideas to get you started.  

  2. 2

    Make it specific to your business

    As you work through the checklist, add or amend it to suit your business. Make notes of how these actions would apply to your business.

  3. 3

    Complete the Climate Change Risk Register

    Once you have completed the adaption checklist, use this information to starting filing in the climate change risk and opportunity register.

4. Further advice and support