Reducing our Emissions 6: Scotland’s public services

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Accessing public services: According to the Scottish Greenhouse Gas Emissions in 2016, the latest year we have information on, road transport was the largest source of emissions in Scotland, with emissions increasing by 7 per cent between 1990 and 2016. This is due to a growth in activity over the period, offset partly by improvements in the efficiency of vehicles. The Climate Change Plan (CCP) anticipates significant decarbonisation of transport by 2032 with emissions reducing by 37% over the lifetime of the Plan. But what does that mean for the trips we need to make to access public services?

Accessing public services

Accessing public services, whether they are schools, social services or health facilities in the area where we live is part of our routine. They are a key part of our neighbourhoods, towns and cities, and their location and the types of transport available impact on our emissions. Introducing low emission zones to improve air quality and making our towns and cities friendlier and safer spaces for cyclists and pedestrians are amongst the proposed interventions in the CCP to address the rising emissions.

For example some services can be delivered remotely, or even digitally, to remove the need for travel to a physical location and subsequently reducing our emissions. That is currently explored in health provision, for people who want to, and are able to, live at home independently, and for those who need formal care delivered. Self-care and care with the support of friends and neighbours, alongside technologically assisted care allow people to maintain their independence at each level of the care spectrum and remove the need for trips to facilities that may be hard to reach, besides allowing a wider choice of care for those who need it. A&DS is engaging with partners to develop and peer review work on Town Centre Living: A Caring Place, to help build up a greater understanding of the dimensions that caring places might include.

The location of public services in relation to existing or proposed new housing in a place can impact on the travel patterns and choices  people make. This is true for the recipients of the services, as well as those who provide them; teachers, carers, supporting staff and professionals alike. By understanding the flows between the places where we live and the public services, we will be in a better position to review the need for relocation, merging of facilities or new provision, along with the options for active travel through places that work on a social level and encourage alternatives to the car.

How can A&DS help?

At A&DS we believe that well-designed buildings and places make the best use of our resources and create places that help people and communities to flourish. The better a place works, the more it sustains services and amenities. Two of our focus areas relate to creating better schools, hospitals and other public investment and improving the design quality of infrastructure and public space. Creating new and altering existing places within our communities requires design consideration at all levels and A&DS can help explore and support moving forward through its Design Advice and other advice services. Our transport options and how we travel between places is also explored through the Place Standard tool which is a way of assessing places and provides a simple framework to structure conversations about place.


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

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


Image (detail) from Unsplash/Nabeel Syed
(Updated August 2018)

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