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Climate change

Background - Setting out the challenge

The climate emergency

Whilst for some time, there has been almost universal recognition that climate change is one of the biggest risks facing our planet, the urgency of action was brought sharply into focus in 2018 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which stated that we must limit global warming to 1.5°C. Even with a rise of 1.5°C, IPCC reported that there would be risks to health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, human security and economic growth. A rise of 2°C would be even more catastrophic.

The IPCC warns that we only have a limited period left (2030) to take the decisive and serious action required to avert this crisis and avoid the worst impacts. In May 2019 the UK Parliament declared a climate change emergency, this was followed by the Climate Change Secretary's statement to the Scottish Parliament on 14 May 2019.

Mitigation and adaptation

Addressing climate change is complex and challenging. Actions centre around two main areas of work:

  1. Mitigation- this is what we need to do to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. This can be achieved by making our homes, businesses and transport more energy efficient, or switching to carbon neutral energy sources. It can also involve positive actions to enhance our ability to absorb or capture Carbon Dioxide (CO2) such increasing our woodland cover, or the restoration of peatlands.
  2. Adaptation - the actions we need to take to make adjustments to deal with the impacts of climate change. This could be making changes to our buildings, so they keep cool during hotter summers, or are less at risk of being flooded. It could be using scarce water resources more efficiently or making changes to the crops we grow or trees we plant in our forests so that they are less vulnerable to new pests and diseases, or to storms or wild fires.

Greenhouse gas emissions

Whilst much of the public discussion has centred on carbon emissions, if climate change is to be mitigated, it is essential that we minimise the emissions of all greenhouse gases. The key gases vary depending on the icon sector [111Kb] - for example while the focus in the domestic sector may be carbon dioxide; for the agricultural sector, addressing methane emissions has a prominent role.

To date the Council mitigation focus has been on reducing its own emissions. Recent legislation however, gives a clear role for the Council to work with its partners, citizens and businesses to ensure that the whole Perth & Kinross area becomes a net zero carbon place by 2045 at the latest. This means that we must reduce the carbon emissions to a level which are equal to or less than the ability of our natural ecosystems (i.e. our woodlands and peatlands) to absorb and retain carbon.

Targets

International bodies and national governments have responded to the climate change emergency by setting increasingly ambitious icon targets [183Kb].

We must engage with all our stakeholders and take a shared responsibility for setting targets which are realistic, achievable, and have the commitment of all. Therefore, we aim to jointly develop targets with our communities, taking into account different scenarios, and being realistic about the challenge and costs involved for each scenario.

Interim Climate Emergency Report and Action Plan (Dec 2019)

In June 2019 Perth & Kinross Council acknowledged its responsibilities, by unanimously passing a Motion, which committed the Council to lead by example in accelerating the transformational change required to address the climate emergency. The Chief Executive was tasked with setting out a route map to deliver through co-production with citizens and other stakeholders, a low carbon Perth & Kinross.

The report is the first stage in that journey. It is an interim document and forms the basis to start the conversation with our national and local elected representatives, our partners and our communities, over the next few months, giving all partners and all citizens a chance to play a part in delivering a low carbon and climate resilient Perth & Kinross. The report sets out our current status, and our current thinking, by highlighting:

  1. the size and complexity of the challenge as it relates to the Council as an organisation, and the wider Perth and Kinross area.
  2. the increasing range of international, national and local policies, targets, and legislation; and how they will direct and influence our activities over the next decades.
  3. our projects for taking forward comprehensive engagements on climate change, to develop a shared vision, strategy and actions, which will be essential for the entire Perth and Kinross area to achieve a net zero carbon future.
  4. the extensive activity the Council and partners are already carrying out, to address climate change mitigation and adaptation, as well as detailing short, medium and longer term actions, and options, which demonstrates our commitment to accelerating our climate change progress.
  5. our commitment to "just transitions", to ensure that climate change actions progress hand in hand with fairness and equality; and that no one in a vulnerable situation is disadvantaged by climate change transformation.
  6. how we are currently organised to work together, and how that close working can evolve to ensure our future climate change activities remain unified, focussed and effective.

The Committee Report and associated documents are available to view/download from the Committee Website.

News & Events

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