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Last Updated: Monday, 2 October 2006, 16:47 GMT 17:47 UK
Sepa climate fears for Scotland
grangemouth chimneys
Current greenhouse gas emissions could cause 'irreversible change'
Scotland is facing "potentially devastating" consequences from climate change, experts have warned.

A report on Scotland's environment predicts a warmer and wetter climate with more flooding and coastal erosion.

The review by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) has been published at the start of a conference in Edinburgh.

It says current emission rates mean there is "great risk" of reaching a point of irreversible change.

The State of Scotland's Environment report highlights changes that have already begun, including a 1% increase in spring, summer and winter temperatures since 1961.

Winter rain in the north and west has risen by 60% since that date, and sea temperatures are up by 1C over the last 20 years.

It sets out a series of implications for Scotland from climate change.

It is impacting on Scotland and action must be taken to tackle it now
Dr Campbell Gemmell
Sepa chief executive

These include more frequent and severe river flooding affecting 77,000 properties while periods of reduced river flow will cause higher water treatment costs.

It warns that higher temperatures could cause "potentially catastrophic" losses of species like island breeding seabirds through disruption to the food chain.

The report says there will be more erratic weather with a greater likelihood of "extreme events".

Summertime smog is also predicted to increase.

Introducing the report to a seminar on Monday, Sepa chief executive, Dr Campbell Gemmell, said: "The impacts of climate change on the environment, on the economy and on people's lives are significant and our message has to be that it is real, it is impacting on Scotland and action must be taken to tackle it now."

The report also makes some positive points.

'Global economy'

It says Scotland's rivers are at their cleanest for 300 years, air pollution from industry is declining and the amount of waste going to landfill is falling.

Man-made radioactivity levels are also falling and awareness of environmental issues is rising.

Environment Minister Ross Finnie said: "Climate change is a major threat to the global economy, our communities and our environment. We are responding seriously."

Scottish National Party environment spokesman Richard Lochhead said Holyrood must have more powers to ensure environmental change.

He said: "Although combating climate change remains our biggest challenge, it can also present a huge opportunity for Scotland in terms of cutting emissions by developing our renewable energy resources and creating thousands of green jobs."

Green MSP Mark Ruskell said the issue needed much more serious action by Scotland's politicians.

He said: "Climate pollution must be tackled head on, and with more urgency, and that means a legal obligation on politicians to lead action which will reduce emissions year on year."

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