AN environment expert has called for action to tackle the climate crisis as it could threaten Scotland’s world-famous whisky industry.

Dr Sarah Halliday, from Dundee University’s Geography and Environmental Science department, said we must tackle a warming planet to prevent an increase in water shortages across Scotland. Unreliable water supplies could also threaten the function of hydropower facilities and its world-famous whisky industry, unless urgent action to tackle climate change is adopted.

Halliday made the warning ahead of an online panel event on the subject, part of the university’s Festival of the Future, on Thursday.

“Climate change is putting increasing pressure on our freshwater resources and dependent ecosystems here in Scotland,” she said.

“Changes in rainfall patterns and increases in extreme events means flash floods and droughts are both becoming increasingly common.

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"In July, over half the month’s rainfall fell in one hour, leading to significant flash flooding in Edinburgh. This was despite the summer of 2021 being the fourth hottest summer since records began. The consequence is that significant areas of Scotland are experiencing moderate water scarcity now.”

Halliday also warned that Scottish industry is at risk from climate change. “If reduced river flow becomes the norm then this has additional consequences,” she added. “Hydropower schemes and whisky distilleries, whose abstraction consents are linked not only to the quantity of water in our rivers but also its temperature, could be disrupted.

“Reduced rainfall and higher temperatures result in increased need for crop irrigation, exacerbating water shortages, and threatening the future viability of many of our traditional crops. We are running out of time to protect our water resources and that is why it is imperative we adapt, or we will fail to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goal No 6, which ensures availability and sustainable management of water for all.”

Halliday will host three speakers at the event, including Dr Caroline Clason, associate professor of Glaciology at Plymouth University, who will discuss the importance of glaciers as water resources. Joining her will be Dundee University’s Dr Andrew Black, who will discuss natural flood management approaches to mitigate the effects of climate change in Scotland, and Nandan Mukherjee, a post-doctoral research fellow at Dundee, who will introduce his United Nations award-winning work on creating sustainable floating homes in flood-prone regions of Bangladesh.

Festival of the Future COP26 Series: Water, takes place on Thursday from 2pm to 4pm. It is free to attend, but places must be booked in advance online.