The Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee of the Scottish Parliament has issued a dire warning about Scotland’s local authorities being unable to deliver the targets set by the Scottish Government due to limits to budgets.
Their report comes hot on the heels of the Scottish Government’s draft ‘Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan’ which sets out a plan for Scotland’s renewables revolution to be accelerated.
The Scottish MSPs on the committee want both increased financial support and more powers to local authorities to be able to help Scotland achieve Net Zero by 2045.
Convener of the Committee, Edward Mountain MSP, said;
“Over the course of almost a year of evidence-taking, it’s clear that unless key barriers facing local government are dealt with, we will not reach net zero by 2045.
“Local Government is the layer of democracy closest to communities. They have local knowledge and capacity to lead by example and are also uniquely well-placed to form the partnerships we’re going to need at a local and regional level.
“We saw for ourselves on committee visits across Scotland the leadership and good practice many Councils and their local partners are modelling. But against a backdrop of financial pressure, where Councils feel they are being asked to do more for less, they are struggling to think and plan strategically to maximise their contribution to net zero.
“We hope that the Scottish Government, COSLA and the wider local government sector will pay close attention to the recommendations we have made to enable the scale of transformational and behavioural change required for Scotland to succeed.”
The report highlights a skills and staffing shortage across councils to be able to proceed effectively with, for instance planning and procurement, vital in achieving Net Zero.
Orkney’s ageing internal Ferry Fleet, managed by the OIC’s Orkney Ferries, is a major problem for the council reaching Net Zero.
In a recent debate in the Scottish Parliament on the Scottish Government’s Carbon Neutral Islands Project. Orkney Constituency MSP, Liam McArthur, Lib Dem said:
“No island can be deemed to be carbon neutral when its lifeline ferry links are delivered by ageing, polluting and inefficient vessels. I’m pleased the Cabinet Secretary accepted my amendment on the need to decarbonise lifeline ferry services across all island routes. Hopefully, therefore, this project will add impetus to the work of John Swinney’s Ferries Task Force and lead to the delivery of the new ferries that Hoy and Orkney’s other islands so desperately need.”
The Project considers carbon neutrality akin to net zero. Accordingly, a carbon neutral island is an ‘island where the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (captured as CO2 equivalent) are in balance with the sinks’. Sinks can be natural resources capable of absorbing CO2 (trees) or technological solutions that do the same thing (carbon capture and storage). Carbon neutrality is to be achieved by 2040, five years prior to Scotland as a whole.Carbon Neutral Islands Project
The project identified 6 islands for the Carbon Neutral Project:
- Great Cumbrae
In Hoy, Orkney, the project will be managed by Aisling Philips for the Hoy Development Trust.