Five-year climate change plan for council approved

A five-year plan which sets a net zero target for City Council assets and operations was today approved at committee.

The members of Aberdeen City Council’s Full Council committee unanimously agreed the Climate Change Plan 2021-2025: Towards a Net Zero and Climate Resilient Council report which outlines actions to reduce carbon emissions and increase resilience to climate change.

The Climate Change Plan sets out the scope of the Council’s ambitions with net zero and interim targets for a reduction in carbon emissions from council assets and operations, indicates climate risks affecting the council, and it outlines the project priorities being taken forward to 2025.

It also shows that cities like Aberdeen as the European Capital of Energy have a key role to play in leading such a transition and represents the City Council’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions from its own operations.

Aberdeen City Council Co-Leader Councillor Jenny Laing said: “Aberdeen City Council has long recognised the challenges of climate change and the need to reduce emissions and we are committed to ensuring Aberdeen plays a full and active role in the collective effort to reduce global emissions.

"By approving this Climate Change Plan and the additional recommendations, Aberdeen City Council can ensure we are positively contributing to national climate change targets both as an organisation and as a leader within the city.”

In December 2020, Scotland’s Climate Change Plan was updated to reflect the policy and actions required to meet the Scottish Government target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.

As required by Public Bodies’ Climate Duties, the City Council produces an annual Climate Change Report for approval in October/ November each year by the City Growth and Resources Committee. To meet statutory requirements, the report documents carbon emissions from Council assets and operations, alongside information on actions to reduce the Council’s carbon footprint and to adapt to climate change. This allows Elected Members to monitor the Council’s performance in reducing carbon emissions.

Data from the Climate Change Report indicates there has been a 34% reduction in the Council’s corporate carbon emissions since statutory reporting started in 2015/16. Contributing actions have included connections for 26 public buildings to district heating, a programme of energy efficiency measures, street lighting replacement to LED and introduction of electric and hydrogen vehicles to the Council fleet.

As part of the Climate Change Plan 2021-2025, a Project Register Summary for the was developed and it sets emission reduction and climate resilience actions for Council assets and operations. It includes relevant operational actions from approved programmes including the gold standard new 2,000 council house building programme as well as new actions. In addition, it includes enabling actions to support integration of climate change in council systems and processes and to build internal awareness and understanding of climate change.

Five theme sub-groups have been established, with an assigned lead officer, to develop and implement actions in the plan. The theme groups cover buildings, mobility, other operations, leadership and governance, awareness, and behaviour change.

To achieve the targets in the Plan, the City Council has named 39 projects including expand connections to existing heat networks & plan wider connections, Ongoing energy efficiency upgrades for Council housing stock, Identify locations, electric vehicle charge points, for fleet and staff vehicles, convert 42 refuse collection fleet vehicles to dual fuel (hydrogen/ diesel), Complete LED street lighting replacement programme, and increased use of local, sustainable, seasonable, products in Council catering.

To keep abreast of changes to relevant national legislation, policy, procedure, regulation and guidance, the Climate Change Plan 2021-2025 will be reviewed and a new plan brought back to Full Council in 2025. Following this, the plan will be reviewed every five years, or earlier if required.

The committee heard the UK Government will host the 26th United Nations Climate Change (COP) conference in Glasgow from 1 November to 12 November 2021. The committee agreed the City Council should sign the Glasgow Food and Climate Declaration which brings together all types and sizes of local authorities to speak with a unified voice in renewing their commitments to develop sustainable food policies, promote mechanisms for joined-up action and call on national governments to put food and farming at the heart of the global response to the climate emergency.

The Full Council members also agreed a pilot of a Carbon Budget during the financial year 2021-2022, an Aberdeen Energy Transition and Climate Change Route map is developed through the Net Zero Leadership Board and Delivery, and the Council should lead a city-wide campaign using social media, Community Planning Aberdeen, Net Zero Leadership Board, Aberdeen City Council’s partners and business associates to promote Aberdeen City Council’s Climate Change Plan and reflecting the significance of COP 26 conference and report progress of the campaign to the December 2021 Council meeting.