Scotland Climate action and sustainable development, Welfare and equalities

Green solutions: local councils can lead by example

Leader of Aberdeen City Council, Jenny Laing, discusses the council’s plans to proactively help the environment and deliver the needs of their constituents in one fell swoop. 

We are committed to addressing climate change and we want to position Aberdeen as a climate positive city while helping to lead the world on the rapid shift to a net zero future. This will be achieved through delivering climate change actions on a city-wide scale, both working with external partners/businesses and through playing our part in our own organisation.

We have already set out our ambitious goals for Aberdeen through the Net Zero City Vision, which includes actions for other organisations in the public sector to follow. We also follow the Council Climate Change Plan 2021-2025 which aims to show early leadership in transitioning to net zero through our own assets, operations and improving our climate resilience.

The plan sets out the scope of Aberdeen City Council’s ambitions to reach net zero and the necessary interim targets for a reduction in carbon emissions. It highlights climate risks affecting the council and it outlines the project priorities across five themes being taken forward to 2025.

General operations across the council now have a green-centric bias because reducing carbon footprint is a huge focus point – whether it’s something as simple as decreasing single-use plastics to more complex work, such as ensuring new infrastructure developments are designed with Active Travel at the forefront.

For our own housing and building stock, this includes addressing our existing district heating networks, as well as, new on-site energy systems for our new and existing schools and council buildings. This includes the new Gold Standard Council House Building Programme, with an additional project focusing on retrofitting our housing stock.

Many of our existing housing stock is heated by combined heat and power plants which utilise waste heat from the production of electricity. Our first combined heat and power plant was built in 2005 through an arm’s-length organisation. We now have five of these energy centres around the city which provide low-cost heating to thousands of council homes and buildings.

We are building 2,000 new council houses throughout the city. Many of these new houses and flats will be connected to either the existing energy centres or the new combined heat and power plants.

The new council housing programme is gold standard which means it includes high levels of energy efficiency throughout and involves low maintenance of external amenity spaces. They also support more walking, cycling, and wheeling through an Active Travel design.

All of these actions provide an opportunity for the Aberdeen City Council to lead the way and become an exemplar local council when it comes to the ways councils can transition towards net zero in a dynamic and thoughtful way. It also aligns with the work of World Energy Cities Partnership around climate change, local and national government policies, and international agreements.

As a local council, we look forward to the future and working with public and private sector partner organisations and companies to achieve net zero and tackle climate change together.

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