Glasgow must focus on a ‘green recovery’ from the impact of the Covid-19 if the city is to tackle climate change, a council committee has heard.
In a report to the council’s Environment, Sustainability and Carbon Reduction (ESCR) Policy Committee, it was also identified that ‘bold leadership and substantial investment’ is required if Glasgow is to meet its target of carbon neutrality by 2030 and the ‘unprecedented challenges presented by the pandemic.’
There was praise for Glasgow’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions so far, but the report also acknowledges that the current rate of change is too slow and that rapid action is needed to lessen the impact of climate change, ultimately reverse emerging weather trends.
The publication of the report, the Climate Emergency Implementation Plan, follows the council’s declaration of a climate and ecological emergency in May 2019 and the 61 recommendations made by Glasgow’s Climate Emergency Working Group in August last year.
Building on a wide range of work already underway within the city to address climate change, the Climate Emergency Implementation Plan sets out 52 different actions intended to drive Glasgow towards net zero carbon emissions by 2030.
The 52 actions cover key issues such as transport, energy and heating for homes and industry but also initiatives to reduce waste and improve recycling, enhance the city’s natural environment, build resilience against future weather events and develop the city’s green economy.
It is also envisaged that the council works with multiple partners in government, the public sector, private sector and local communities to achieve the ambition of becoming carbon neutral.
Councillor Anna Richardson, City Convener for Sustainability and Carbon Reduction, believes the threat posed by climate change can only be averted if all sectors of society pull together.
Councillor Richardson said: “The climate and ecological emergency is without doubt one of the biggest challenges faced by the council and its partners. The council must take a lead but collaboration across the public sector, the private sector and communities is vital if the challenge is to be met.
“As the implementation plan shows Glasgow has begun to deliver the kind of change that’s needed, whether that’s transforming the energy efficiency of multi-storey homes, extending the availability of EV charging points or increasing the city’s tree coverage.
“But it also clear there needs to be a sharp increase in the scope, scale and intensity of action to set Glasgow on course for achieving the 2030 target. The new implementation plan puts forward a wide range of actions that will shape how we heat our homes, travel around the city and create opportunities in the green economy of the future.
“Covid-19 has been a major shock to the system, but as we hopefully emerge from the current crisis we cannot lose sight of the fact that the climate emergency has not gone away. A green recovery from the pandemic is therefore essential as we have limited time to get to grips with climate change.
“We must also ensure that the climate action we take does not reinforce inequality within the city. Creating a more sustainable city must go hand in hand with social justice.”
The most recent figures available indicate that Glasgow produced 2.65m tonnes of carbon dioxide 2017 with sources of emissions broadly split between transport, domestic energy consumption and the energy needs of industry and commerce. This figure represents a 1.45m tonne drop in carbon dioxide produced by the city since 2005, when a baseline for measurements was created.
The Climate Emergency
The implementation plan focuses on five main themes – communication and community empowerment, just and inclusive place, well-connected and thriving city, health and well-being and Green Recovery – all of which shadow the UK Government’s report on climate change and the UN’s sustainable goals.
Following discussion at the ESCR committee, the implementation plan will now be put forward for public consultation before ultimately being submitted to the City Administration Committee for final approval.