Edinburgh Council must deliver on climate commitments - Dr Sam Gardner

As the dust settles on the outcome of Edinburgh’s local elections the priorities for the new administration are coming into sharp focus. At the top of their in-tray should be delivering on the commitment to a cleaner, safer, healthier city that places tackling the climate crisis at its heart.

By Dr Sam Gardner
Tuesday, 7th June 2022, 7:00 am

With all the main political parties bar the Conservatives, committed to the published Edinburgh’s 2030 Climate Strategy there is no reason to pause, every reason to seize the mandate for action, and for all parties to work together to deliver positive change for our Capital.

The latest global scientific report from the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) reminded us, if we needed reminding (and we really shouldn’t), that the climate crisis isn’t on hold. At its publication, the UN Secretary General said: “We are on a fast track to climate disaster: Major cities under water. Unprecedented heatwaves. Terrifying storms. Widespread water shortages. The extinction of a million species of plants and animals.

“This is not fiction or exaggeration. Climate promises and plans must be turned into reality and action, now. It is time to stop burning our planet and start investing in the abundant renewable energy all around us.”

All the main political parties, bar the Conservatives, are committed to the published Edinburgh’s 2030 Climate Strategy

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With this warning ringing in our ears, Edinburgh now faces the challenge of turning its targets and commitments into meaningful action. Before the election, the Edinburgh Climate Commission wrote to all the main political parties, asking them to outline their climate commitments. We found strong cross-party support from the Green Party, Labour, Liberal Democrats and the SNP to many of the actions we need to see in the coming months.

This is critically important.

We know what steps we need to take for Edinburgh to get on track for net zero. We know we have the technology. And we now know we have the public support for change.

Edinburgh’s new council administration must work across the Chamber to push forward the positive changes citizens of Edinburgh overwhelmingly voted for.

Key priority areas for action in the 2030 Climate Strategy include:

investing in renewable heat and energy efficiency,supporting local energy generation,implementing integrated and active transport systems, and,creating 20-minute neighbourhoods that make it easier to access local services.

On top of the climate benefits, all these actions can help reduce future shocks to fuel, energy, food and living costs. They can help build resilience in our communities and are even more important in the face of a cost-of-living crisis.

The strategy also targets the economic opportunities for new businesses, along with the creation of new jobs and skills through the development of a green economy.

However, the pace at which we deliver these is critical. We need to move much faster than we have in the last decade. If we get it right, Edinburgh can be successful in the coming decades of economic transition, delivering huge benefits to the people of the city.

If we can deliver a net zero city by 2030, we will see many benefits. From the economic benefits of leading the transition to a green economy and the health and wellbeing benefits of a greener, cleaner city. To the collective pride of playing our part in reversing the climate crisis.

Edinburgh has shown leadership and has been recognised nationally and internationally for its ambition and climate commitments. The Climate Commission is ready to continue its work with all parties and partners to help turn this high ambition into real benefits for the people of Edinburgh.

Dr Sam Gardner, Chair of the Edinburgh Climate Commission