Reducing our Emissions 5: Scotland’s communities and climate change

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The continuing role of Scotland’s communities to help reduce our emissions by 66% by 2032 has been highlighted in the past few months in the Planning (Scotland) Bill, the Climate Change Plan and the new Climate Change Bill and the Scottish Energy Strategy. In this article, we’ll provide an overview of the opportunities and challenges ahead.

The planning system

The Scottish Planning legislation is currently reviewed and the proposed Planning (Scotland) Bill looks to strengthen the contribution of the planning system to inclusive growth and empowering communities. While we won’t know the final content of the new Planning legislation until later, it’s accepted that decisions about “place” can support low carbon lifestyles and that Scotland’s transition to a low carbon economy can only be achieved with everyone’s input. The Planning Bill includes a new right enabling communities to prepare their own plan for their place – this creates opportunities for communities to use the planning process when considering how to access funds for change, such as the Climate Challenge Fund.

Action on Climate Change

The Climate Change Plan (CCP) will be a fundamental information source for the preparation of the next National Planning Framework and Scottish Planning Policy, which is expected to be published in 2020. Decarbonising our economy, as set out in the CCP, intends to support delivery of an inclusive, socially just transition, based on equal opportunity, a fair and inclusive jobs market, regional cohesion and safe and secure communities. Communities and individuals will have to change behaviours to support these improvements and Climate Conversations across Scotland will help encourage discussion about climate change among people who do not generally talk about it.

In the meantime a new Climate Change Bill has been introduced to Parliament, with an ambitious target to reduce our emissions by 90% by 2050. Having said that, the latest statistics reflecting our progress towards reducing Scottish emissions, show that we have already reduced our emissions by 49% from the 1990 baseline. Communities need to be a part of the decisions required to achieve this transformative change in our towns and cities.

Action on energy and energy efficiency

One of the six priorities of the Scottish Energy Strategy is to empower communities by supporting development of innovative local energy systems and networks. At the same time development on new technologies and the decarbonisation of heat are expected to create economic and social benefit, as surplus industrial heat is redirected to communities to heat homes, healthcare facilities and schools.

More specifically the Energy Efficient Scotland programme sets out the journey our homes, businesses and public buildings will take to become more energy efficient. It will also guide the decisions that we will be making, with our partners, over the next 20 years. Communities and individuals can put forward their views through the two consultations which are open until 27 July 2018.

Enabling communities

Health and wellbeing are linked drivers at an individual and policy level.  Green infrastructure and public transport, along with low emission zones, can improve health outcomes and reduce traffic and pollution that affect our wellbeing, while better quality, more attractive and safer places can encourage more active lifestyles and support reduction of our emissions. A&DS has been supporting Scottish communities to engage and affect change in their places in various ways, through the Making places initiative, the Stalled spaces toolkit, the Place Standard tool, improving existing places through co-production to name a few. This approach is based on the realisation that where communities are empowered, it is possible to achieve improved, more responsive services, which are better linked to the local needs and deliver better outcomes for the communities themselves.


Previous Blog Posts in this series


Reducing Our Emissions 1: Housing and greenhouse gas emissions in Scotland

Reducing our Emissions 2: Heating our homes

Reducing our Emissions 3: Scotland’s towns and cities

Reducing our Emissions 4: The Role of Construction Materials

(updated July 2018)

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