Conference will focus on public sector carbon reduction

In three weeks Scotland will open its doors to the sixth Low Carbon Scotland – Meeting the Emissions Reduction Targets Conference and Exhibition.

This will be a significant opportunity to get insights from those leading Scotland’s emissions reduction plan and driving the transition to a zero-carbon economy.

The conference, at Edinburgh’s Dynamic Earth, will be held in partnership with main event organisers 3ppp (Public-Private-Partnerships) and the Herald’s Climate for Change Campaign.

The Scottish Government’s recent announcement that it will legislate to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2045 came after fresh advice from the Committee on Climate Change, with Committee Chairman Lord Deben highlighting that Scotland has been a leader within the UK with many of its policies to tackle climate change.

Lord Deben said: “By setting a strong net-zero target for 2045 it can continue that leadership on the world stage. It will be tough, but it can be done and Scotland’s strong track record positions it well to succeed.”

Scotland’s current target, set in the Climate Change Act, is to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050 compared with benchmark levels from 1990 while a new bill currently going through the Scottish Parliament aims to increase that target to 90%.

HeraldScotland: Scotland is leading the way on low carbon, according to Lord DebenScotland is leading the way on low carbon, according to Lord Deben

It will now be amended so that MSPs can vote on the new target of net-zero by 2045.

A main focus of the conference is the how public sector can reduce its carbon emissions, with a discussion about how the current situation can be improved and world-leading technologies and innovations to be showcased by delegates.

Conference will hear that tackling climate change is both a moral responsibility and an economic opportunity.

Low carbon technologies will revolutionise the global economy – and to grasp these opportunities swift and purposeful action is necessary to avoid being left behind.

This can only occur if the public sector along with central and regional government work with private sector organisations and have input from third sector and citizens.

The theme of the conference will be: Smart, Connected, Low Carbon Communities – what are they and how are they created?

It will pose the solution as creating sustainable communities, cities and regions which will require all partners to fully collaborate. By all working smarter by utilising shared data and knowledge, collaborative communities can unlock great value and resilience.

An impressive line-up of speakers will include a ministerial address and a Q&A with Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands plus a keynote address from Stephen Thomson – Head of Air Quality, Transport Scotland, highlighting Scotland’s ambitions to introduce low emission zones into Scotland’s four biggest cities: Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee between 2018 and 2020.

To register for Low Carbon Scotland 2019 visit www.low-carbonscotland.scot

Hope lies in new generation of ‘dynamic and interconnected students’

Few people outside the world of further and higher education will have heard of the EAUC. Even its flagship international events may be unknown to many. However, the EAUC represents teaching and research institutions with over two million students, 400,000 staff and a collective spending power of over £25 billion. You could also argue that the EAUC is an organisation ahead of its time.

The Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges was launched 23 years ago, one year before the Kyoto Protocol and ten years before Al Gore rang the alarm bell in his documentary “An Inconvenient Truth”.

It exists to be the environmental and sustainability champion for further and higher education and its annual showcase is the Green Gown Awards.

As well as the UK and Ireland Awards there are now also the Australasian Green Gown Awards and the GUPES Green Gown Awards which cover six UN Environment Programme regions, including Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Looking at the balance of changes that have taken place since its establishment, the EAUC points to growing environmental and human emergencies.

HeraldScotland: Karen Watt Chief Executive at Scottish Funding CouncilKaren Watt Chief Executive at Scottish Funding Council

However, it sees hope in a new generation of what it describes as “dynamic and interconnected students” – an astute observation in light of the recent climate change marches and the interest around Greta Thunberg’s visit to
the UK.

The EAUC’s approach to its task is progressive. It believes that the issues of social, environmental and economic sustainability are interlinked and sees a need for the response to solving them to reflect this reality.

Achieving that kind of inter-disciplinary action is seen as a challenge but one for which Scotland, as a small and connected nation with world-leading teaching and research, is well suited.

In Scotland the EAUC is funded by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC). For SFC chief executive, Karen Watt, the investment is a key part of the Scottish Funding Council’s commitment to addressing the climate crisis.

She said: “The EAUC is a vital catalyst and support for so much of the work that Scotland’s colleges and universities are doing in response to the climate crisis.

“In light of new targets for carbon reduction its role is more important than ever.”

For more information visit www.sfc.ac.uk

Recycling firm has mixed feelings over deposit scheme.

A major recycling company has reservations about the Scottish Government’s announcement last week which saw Scotland in line to become the first part of the UK to introduce a deposit return scheme, aiming to reclaim 90% of drinks containers for recycling within three years.

Cans, plastic bottles and glass will be included in the scheme, which Scottish Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said would place a return value on items of 20p to be implemented by the end of the current Parliament in 2021.

HeraldScotland: Introducing Glasgow's £155m recycling plant that turns landfill waste into electricityIntroducing Glasgow's £155m recycling plant that turns landfill waste into electricity

The scheme will apply to PET plastic bottles glass bottles and steel/aluminium drinks cans.

Viridor, with its base at Eurocentral in Lanarkshire, has invested £477m in Scotland over the past five years and welcomed the move but expressed concern that it would not achieve circular economy ambitions and that material could be sent overseas for recycling.

The firm called for a scheme with an administrator tasked with ensuring the resource is retained by Scotland for reprocessing and reintroduced to the country’s economy.

Viridor said that if conditions were appropriate, it was ready to invest further in Scots reprocessing focusing on polymers and its continuing investment of glass recycling.

Electricity grid operates for 92 hours without coal power.

Last week saw the UK achieve its first week without coal generated electricity on the power grid since before the Industrial Revolution.

This was another positive step forward as over the Easter weekend the electricity grid operated for almost 92 hours with no domestically generated coalfired power. The UK built the world’s first coal-fuelled power plant in the 1880s and the fossil fuel was its primary source of electricity and major economic driver for the next century but its share in the energy mix has dropped to just 5% from 40% six years ago.

HeraldScotland: Renewables can easily meet world's needs

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “Decarbonising our energy system is a crucial part of our commitment to ending our contribution to global warming. This year we’ve already reached the major milestone of 1,000 hours without using coal to power our homes and industry.”

Climate change exacerbated by coal-fired power generation elsewhere remains a major concern.

According to Edward Cunningham, Director of the Harvard Kennedy School Asia Energy and Sustainability Initiative, there are more than 300 coal plants planned for countries such as Turkey, Vietnam, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Egypt and the Philippines.

HeraldScotland:

The Herald’s Climate for Change initiative supports efforts being made by the Scottish Government with key organisations and campaign partners. Throughout the year we will provide a forum in The Herald newspaper, online at herald.scotland.com and in Business HQ magazine, covering news and significant developments in this increasingly crucial area.

If you are interested in contributing editorially or interested in becoming a Climate for Change partner, please contact Stephen McTaggart on 0141 302 6137 or email stephen.mctaggart@heraldandtimes.co.uk