Climate change crisis: Edinburgh must speed up carbon-cutting measures to reach 2030 net zero targets

Edinburgh needs to speed up carbon-cutting measures in order to reach its target of net zero by 2030, council leaders have said.

By Ian Swanson
Wednesday, 1st December 2021, 12:30 pm
Updated Wednesday, 1st December 2021, 12:46 pm

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The council’s policy committee accepted an emissions reduction plan, setting out what the council needs to do to cut its own carbon emissions, and a climate strategy, outlining measures for the wider city.

Actions included improving energy efficiency by retroffiting public buildings and supporting residents to retrofit their homes with measures such as insulation and green-energy heating systems; helping develop a city-wide programme of heat and energy generation and distribution; accelerating decarbonisation of public transport with pilot projects on electric vehicles and hydrogen power; and encouraging waste recycling with a fourth recycling centre at Braehead.

Insulation will be part of the retrofitting of homes to help meet the net zero target

In the foreword to the climate strategy, council leader Adam McVey and depute Cammy Day said: “The challenge we face is clear. We must reduce our transport emissions 12 times faster; emissions from buildings need to be reduced twice as fast year on year; and our homes need to be retrofitted 50 times faster.”

But they added: “The good news is we know from independent research that we can get over 65 per cent of the way there with actions that pay for themselves.”

But the Tories called for more information on how much the rest of the actions would cost and where the money was coming from.

Jim Campbell said: “Buildings in Edinburgh are a huge challenge. Many of them are public buildings the council is going to have find the money – perhaps £4 or 5 billion – to achieve carbon neutrality. And many of them are private buildings and we’re going to ask out citizens to find a significant amount of money for their own homes.

"We don’t have a clear source for those funds and we don’t yet have a clear breakdown of those costs.

“If we are going to try and take the city with us we need to have a little bit more honesty or share a little bit more information with the citizens about the costs and how they are going to be squared with our budgets.”

But Councillor McVey said: “There will have to be a lot of discussion between the Scottish Government and ourselves, and the UK Government where appropriate, on how we finance some of this in terms of public funding and perhaps avenues like the Green Investment Bank and others as well as conventional public borrowing.”

The climate strategy said even with a radical shift in the way people lived, to drastically reduce emissions, it was unlikely “absolute zero” could be achieved. But “offsetting” carbon emissions, for example by planting trees, should be a last resort.

Councillor McVey said: "In terms of offset, my preference is for local solutions, which people can see. I’m very keen we don’t see companies paying money to plant trees in the Highlands and call that a net zero action.

“But it is important we acknowledge in the next ten years, as we are all struggling to get the solutions and invest in the right technology to get us to a net zero position, there will be an element of offset and I think it’s quite right to try and harness that potential investment from these companies for the communities they operate in, ie Edinburgh.”

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