A five-year strategy to tackle the climate crisis has been approved by East Lothian Council.
The Climate Change Strategy 2020-2025 sets out the council’s commitment to tackling the climate emergency at a local level and sets out the vision and overall aims for a ‘Net Zero Council’ and a ‘Carbon Neutral East Lothian’ with specific outcomes, key priority areas and actions over the next five years towards achieving these overall aims.
Two major aspects of climate change are covered: Climate Change Mitigation – which sets out how East Lothian Council will reduce its emissions to reach net zero as soon as reasonably practicable, and work with partners towards a carbon neutral East Lothian; and Climate Change Adaptation which recognises that climate change is already impacting upon the planet and sets out how East Lothian Council will adapt to and prepare for future changes in climate and to enable local communities and businesses to become more resilient.
Councillor Norman Hampshire, environment spokesperson, said: “Under the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009, as a public body, East Lothian Council is expected to lead by example in reducing carbon emissions, contributing to climate change adaptation and acting sustainably.
“In May 2019, East Lothian Council opened a two-month consultation on the draft climate change strategy and we are very grateful to the many individuals, groups and businesses who took the time to offer their views, ideas and considerations that have helped shape the resulting strategy approved today.
“A declaration of a climate emergency was unanimously supported by East Lothian Council elected members in August 2019 which also shaped and focussed the climate change strategy.
“Whilst this strategy is initially considering priorities and actions over the next five years, the strategy will also be reviewed and updated annually as further legislative and policy changes occur.”
He added: “It is important to note that while national actions and legislative changes are developing we have produced a council strategy rather than a wider East Lothian strategy as a local authority does not have the necessary powers to ensure everyone is working towards net zero. A council strategy provides clear guidance on how as an organisation we will lead by example and deliver what is within our control setting out actions for the council to become net zero.
“We also set out how the council will work in partnership with our local communities, organisations, businesses and national agencies towards achieving a carbon neutral East Lothian that is prepared for the impacts of climate change.
“We recognise the interest, commitment and ideas held by both individuals and groups within the county to tackle climate change and by working together we can positively influence the future of East Lothian for generations to come.”
Alex McCrorie, East Lothian Council, chief executive, added: “The council’s Climate Change Strategy is an extremely comprehensive piece of work that thoroughly considers current scientific research and predictions and how the local authority can play a leading role in reducing carbon emissions towards net zero and acting sustainably.
“The strategy recognises and builds upon work that the council has already put in place in recent years including continuing to improve the energy efficiency of homes and public buildings, improving active travel and sustainable transport networks and promoting behaviour change to more sustainable travel choices.
“The latest Climate Change report issued last week highlighted that the council’s carbon footprint has fallen by 27.7% since reporting began in 2014/15.”