Edinburgh rates climate emergency as top priority more than rest of Scotland

Nearly three-quarters of people in Edinburgh believe climate change is an immediate and urgent problem – a far bigger proportion than the Scottish average – according to a new report.

Tuesday, 13th April 2021, 7:00 am

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Edinburgh by Numbers, the annual statistical overview of the Capital, also shows the city has recorded the fourth largest reduction in carbon dioxide emissions per head out of UK major cities as it works towards the ambitious target of reaching net-zero emissions by 2030, 15 years before Scotland's national target.

Some 73 per cent in Edinburgh rated the climate emergency a top priority compared with 65 per cent across Scotland as a whole, 72 per cent in Glasgow, 68 per cent in Aberdeen and 64 per cent in Dundee.

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The number of overseas visitors to Edinburgh rose by one million between 2013 and 2019
The number of overseas visitors to Edinburgh rose by one million between 2013 and 2019

The Capital’s average carbon dioxide emissions per head was 4.4 tonnes, the second highest of UK cities after Leeds, but that was 37.7 per cent down on the figure for 2011. Only Manchester, Glasgow and Sheffield recorded bigger reductions.

Altogether Edinburgh has reduced greenhouse gases emissions by 571 kilotons of CO2 from 2010/11 to 2017/18, with the greatest decreases being in energy, with a drop of 23.7 per cent and in agriculture, forestry and other land use, down by 23.6 per cent.

The Capital also generates less household waste per 1,000 residents than the other major Scottish cities and recycles a larger tonnage.

The 14th edition of Edinburgh by Numbers offers a snapshot of a pre-pandemic Edinburgh, with 37 per cent of people taking the bus or cycling to work, over three times the Scottish average and 41 per cent going by car or taxi, the lowest percentage of Scottish cities. The city had one of the most productive economies in the UK; business start-ups consistently outstripped closures and had a better survival rate than in most other UK cities; the number of overseas visitors increased by one million between 2013 and 2019; and in the ten years to 2019, the Capital’s population grew by 13.3 per cent to 524,000 people, three times faster than Scotland (4.4 per cent).

Council leader Adam McVey said: “These figures show the opportunities that Edinburgh offers to so many of our residents, and demonstrate the attraction for so many people to move here, work here, travel here and study here.

"Although we’ve had a huge disruption to all areas of our lives, our communities and the city more widely during the Covid-19 pandemic, looking at these figures, to pre-pandemic times, should give us a sense of optimism about how we go forward. We will take stock of the last year and by using our strengths and the resilience we’ve gained, Edinburgh will build back a fairer, stronger and greener economy for the benefit of all our citizens.”

And depute leader Cammy Day said: “We’ll also continue to look at new ways to continue to meet our net zero-carbon emissions targets through our City Mobility Plan and our ambitious 30-year housing building and capital investment programme delivering 20,000 affordable and energy efficient homes and carbon neutral neighbourhoods through developments such as the Granton Waterfront, Fountainbridge and Meadowbank.”

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