Council sets out plan to meet net zero target

Published: 14th June 2021

Across the world people are experiencing significant impacts of climate change driven by global warming

These include:

  • changing weather patterns
  • rising sea levels
  • more extreme weather events
  • a severe impact on natural biodiversity

The activities and actions of humans are causing greenhouse gas emissions and driving climate change. People, communities, the economy, species and ecosystems face unprecedented threats. 

Climate Change Route Map

On Thursday (17 June) Councillors will discuss a Climate Change Route Map aimed at setting the Scottish Borders on a path to ‘net zero’ by 2045, in which the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced do not exceed what is absorbed naturally or through technology.

Without appropriate action the implications of climate change could be disastrous. We are already experiencing hotter drier summers, warmer and wetter winters and increased flooding.

If climate change is not tackled, extreme weather events can be expected to become much more frequent across the Borders, such as the two flood events experienced by Newcastleton, and which impacted on the surrounding road network, in the past 18 months.

Our route map establishes a framework for action based upon five themes:

  1. Resilience
  2. Transport Use
  3. Nature Based Solutions
  4. Energy
  5. Waste Management

Within each theme, five milestones are identified with core actions against these milestones. For example, extension of the Borders Railway is promoted among transport measures which prioritise walking and cycling, with partners in the Regional Land Use Partnership Pilot and other initiatives, we are committed to developing the use of woodlands to sequester carbon, manage flooding naturally, cool urban areas and enhance biodiversity, and we intend to deliver net zero emissions in its new capital investment programme by 2030. 

Our commitment

Over many years we have made significant changes in how we operates, build and improve facilities and work generally as part of our commitment to reducing its impact on the climate.

This has included:

  • a huge reduction in the household waste sent to landfill and associated increase in recycling rates, to over 56% in the year to December 2020
  • an estimated saving of over 74 tonnes of CO2 in 2019-20 from the pool car fleet
  • implementing LED technology in street lights to reduce both maintenance and energy use
  • an increasingly electric or hybrid vehicle fleet
  • installation of electric vehicle charging points across the region
  • the development of a Sustainable Procurement Charter
  • a print project with IT partner CGI to reduce paper use which has saved over 38 tonnes of CO2

Find out more

The report to the full Council meeting on Thursday is available on our website.

Councillor Sandy Aitchison, Executive Member for Sustainable Development

“This route map sets out the scope of our ambition as a Council to reach the Scottish Government target of net zero by 2045 and opportunities for action.

“We cannot do it alone however, so we will use this route map to ignite a step change locally in not only the developing conversation around tackling climate change but leading regional action across the public sector and beyond.

“The input and actions of our residents will be critical in the Scottish Borders reaching the net zero target as a whole, and that is why we will establish a citizens’ panel to help identify local priorities and support and encourage change across the region.

“The Council as a community leader must be at the forefront of positive change here in the Scottish Borders, but we cannot succeed unless we work alongside our partners, communities, industry, activists and our residents as we move forward on what will be a marathon, not a sprint, in the race to net zero.” 

Councillor Shona Haslam, Leader

“Whilst this Council has made some important strides towards becoming more sustainable and to reducing emissions over a number of years we need to do much, much more to reach net zero. 

“This will transform how we do our business, for example, in how we operate our buildings or manage our greenspaces, just as we, as citizens, will also need to adapt to different expectations about getting from one place to another or in how much we consume or throw away.

“The scale of the challenge is unprecedented, but we are absolutely committed to making the necessary changes for the good of our Scottish Borders and for future generations.”