11 November 2021

Strong progress being made to tackle climate change by Aberdeenshire Council

Strong progress being made by Aberdeenshire Council towards tackling climate change and reducing its own carbon footprint has been warmly welcomed by elected members.

The praise came as the council’s Sustainability Committee yesterday (Wed, Nov 10) approved its mandatory Public Bodies Climate Change Duties Report 2020-21 for submission to the Scottish Government.

However impacts from the pandemic were also addressed by the committee as contributing to the large reduction in emissions for 2020/21.

Aberdeenshire Council became the first local authority in Scotland to develop and approve a carbon budget and in March last year agreed a Climate Change Declaration.

It continues to work towards a carbon-free society by reducing its emissions by 75% by 2030 - against a 2010/11 baseline - and becoming Net Zero by 2045.

The council also has an Environmental and Climate Change Policy which sets out a requirement to commit to Climate Change mitigation and adaptation.

The council’s Sustainability Committee heard that the authority’s top five priorities for climate change governance, management and strategy for the year ahead are:

• Development of a Route Map to 2030 to identify what actions need to happen within the council in order to reach the 75% reduction target by 2030

• Development of a tool to estimate the volume and costs of opportunities to reduce emissions in a given year

• Fully embedding the carbon budget into the financial budgets

• Determining how best to embed circular economy across Aberdeenshire Council and the region building on the Resources and Circular Economy Commitment

• Assessing how the council could further engage to 'work with others across the region to ensure that Aberdeenshire reaches Net Zero by 2045', as committed to in the Climate Change Declaration through Climate Ready Aberdeenshire

The Carbon Budget contains projects throughout council services which will bring about emission reductions. Projects include behaviour change, renewables, energy efficiency in building stock and street lighting, electric vehicles (EVs), EV infrastructure, battery operated landscaping equipment, waste reduction and reuse initiatives.

Councillors also welcomed the establishment of Climate Ready Aberdeenshire - a cross-sector initiative to create a regional climate change adaptation and mitigation strategy and action plan, bringing together the views and expertise of a range of stakeholders from communities, public, private and third sector organisations, to set out how we can work collaboratively to meet the challenges of a changing climate within Aberdeenshire.

In partnership with many other north-east organisations, the council has been involved in the annual North-East Climate Week in March which features an array of events geared at raising public awareness and discussions around climate change as well as engaging communities and youth through libraries and ranger-led activities. Aberdeenshire Council has been awarded a ‘Super Local Authority’ badge for its efforts to promote Earth Hour each year by WWF.

Commenting on the Climate Change Duties Report and the work undertaken by the council to-date, Sustainability Committee chair, Cllr Iain Taylor, said: “Aberdeenshire Council remains firmly committed to tackling climate change head-on and this report clearly highlights our pro-active approach to working collaboratively with our residents, businesses and partners in an attempt to reduce carbon emissions across the region as quickly as possible.  

“The decision to develop a Route-Map to 2030 will be a very significant step towards reducing our carbon budget and hitting key environmental and climate improvements over the next five years. Although the route-map will look to mirror the objectives of COP 26, its focus will be on the particular needs and requirements of Aberdeenshire.”

Vice-chair Cllr Isobel Davidson added: “During what have been very challenging times for us all since the Covid pandemic began, we have continued to invest our time and resources into ensuring we remain firmly focused on our climate change responsibilities. Whether that has been introducing a more sustainable and modern approach to flood risk management, identifying circular economy opportunities for the council or improving the energy efficiency of our homes, we are committed to ensuring Aberdeenshire is at the forefront of climate change.”