30 September 2022

Aberdeenshire Council's decarbonisation plans for 2030 and beyond

Aberdeenshire Council has developed a route map that sets out how it plans to de-carbonise 75% of its emissions by the end of the decade and onto achieving net zero by 2045.

The Route Map to 2030 and Beyond was approved at Full Council on Thursday 29 September.

The plan has a focus on Aberdeenshire Council's operational buildings, fleet, and street lighting, which account for more than 90% of its current carbon footprint. Improvements to authority’s residential properties, such as heating systems and solar roof panels, are separately underway through the Council's Housing Improvement Programme.

Among the many milestones along the route is the adoption of hydrogen and electric vehicles for the authority's fleet; non-domestic buildings will be retrofitted to decarbonise heat as well as save, generate, and store energy; and the council's programme of LED streetlight replacements to date has also exceeded annual decarbonisation targets year-on-year.

Aberdeenshire Council was the first authority in Scotland to develop and approve a carbon budget, aligning itself with the ambitious targets set into law by the Scottish Government, including reaching net zero of all greenhouse gases by 2045.

Decarbonisation will be measured against a baseline carbon footprint of 86,155 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) emitted by the council in 2010/11. TCO2e measures the impact of greenhouse gases by showing the amount of CO2 that would create the same level of global warming.

A key aspect of The Route-Map to 2030 and Beyond is a new carbon reduction toolkit, created to show which projects will deliver the most impactful carbon savings for the least financial outlay.

In addition to the actions from the council's carbon budget work, the identification of funding opportunities to support decarbonisation of the authority's emissions down to 21,539 tCO2e by 2030/31 will continue throughout.

In March 2020, Aberdeenshire Council also agreed a Climate Change Declaration that committed the authority to working with others across the region for a carbon-free society by 2045.

Putting forward the motion to approve the route map, Council Leader Mark Findlater said: “Strong collaboration in line with the One Aberdeenshire ethos is very evident in this work. [The route map] has been considered by the Sustainability Committee, and all six area committees during August and September as well as being explored further in a recent workshop for all members.

"The scale of the challenge facing the council in doing its bit in tackling climate change is such that a collaborative approach is our only option."

Discussion took place around the route map being flexible enough to accommodate any new and conclusive science that could help the council's journey towards net zero and that consideration should be made to seek funding and support from as many areas as possible.

Sustainability Committee Chair Sarah Dickinson seconded the motion and after Full Council said: “It's fitting that the approval of the route map takes place during the nationally recognised Climate Week. Reducing emissions from actions within the Council will support a cleaner, safer environment for everyone. By positively impacting air quality and increasing biodiversity, we will support a future where climate change may not be as impactful as once predicted.”

Reflecting on Full Council, Provost Judy Whyte said: “Climate change is a responsibility for all organisations, and action on it is a core deliverable for all public bodies. It is great to see this work becoming really embedded in everything we do as a Council, because a rapid transformation across all sectors of our economy and society is required to meet these ambitious targets for decarbonisation.”