skip to primary navigationskip to content

Severe weather impacts on Scottish agricultural sector

April 2019: A WWF report shows that severe weather events already have a negative economic impact on Scottish farmers. The effects of climate change-driven extreme weather could be mitigated by cross-sectional policy alignment and building resilience in the agricultural sector.


New data outlines the impacts of severe weather driven by climate-change on the agricultural sector. The WWF study focuses on Scottish farmers and concludes that extreme weather in 2017 and 2018 contributed to losses of up to £161 million for Scotland’s farmers. Increasingly unpredictable seasons and high variability in weather patterns heightened by climate change impacted livestock, yields of key crops, production systems, infrastructure, and financial performance across the food chain. The study predicts that these effects will intensify on a regional and global level due to continuously rising temperatures.

Implications and opportunities

Severe weather shows impact on UK food security and caused the wholesale price of staples to rise by 80 per cent. Further, farm insurance claims for fire damage increased by approximately 20 per cent and farmers reported increased building damage due to heavy snow and winds. These implications are leading to increased risks along the food supply chain and heighten the need for resilience building action throughout the agricultural sector. Resilience could be built by cross-sectional collaboration in which government agencies, industry, and academia seek alignment and informed decision-making.


The study is limited in its application and focuses on climate-driven weather impacts on the Scottish agricultural sector. Further research is needed to replicate assessments in other geographical settings. Moreover, data availability, accessibility, and privacy constraints remain a barrier when assessing the economic impact of severe weather events.


Bizikova, L., Larkin, P., Mitchell, S., & Waldick, R. (2019). An indicator set to track resilience to climate change in agriculture: A policy-maker’s perspective. Land Use Policy, 82, 444–456.doi:10.1016/j.landusepol.2018.11.057

Ecosulis. (2019). The Economic Impact of Extreme Weather on Scottish Agriculture. Retrieved from

WWF. (2019). New WWF report shows that severe weather cost Scottish farmers £161M in 2018. Retrieved from

Our related work

Natural capital

Rewiring the Economy 

Climate change

Aiming for Zero: Business leadership for a net zero economy

Low carbon transformation

Share this

RSS Feed Latest news

Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership and Lloyds Banking Group announce renewed partnership towards a sustainable economy

Sep 10, 2020

10 September 2020 – The Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) and Lloyds Banking Group (LBG) have announced a continuation of their long-standing Strategic Partnership, which aims to further their mutual interests in supporting and leading the transition to a sustainable economy.

View all news


Adele Wiliams

| T: +44 (0)1223 768451


The views expressed in these external research papers are those of the authors and do not represent an official position of CISL, the University of Cambridge, or any of its individual business partners or clients.