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Climate Change: Why is it an Emergency?

Report on Global Warming

In October 2018, the United Nations Special Report on Global Warming provided a global wake-up call when it advised that the number of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere needed to drop significantly by 2030 to prevent catastrophic climate change. This prompted an increase in demands from young people, environmental groups, and wider civil society to declare a global climate emergency and to take urgent action to respond to the challenge.

Since then, both the UK and the Scottish Government and many local authorities have declared a climate emergency and there is strong agreement across political parties, generations and sectors that a step change is needed during the activity to tackle this challenge to our existence. Scotland’s 2019 Climate Change Act has set challenging national targets to reduce emissions by 75% by 2030 and to become carbon neutral by 2045.

How Stirling Council is responding to the Emergency

Stirling Council accepts the key role of local government to address climate change and recognised the climate and ecological emergency at its 3rd October 2019 meeting.

The Council response to the climate crisis is two-fold, involving re-doubling efforts to reduce both the causes (greenhouse gases) and the impacts of climate change in line with national targets, bettering them wherever possible.  Since the October meeting, Council staff have been working to develop a Climate Action Plan, while continuing to deliver existing projects that will help reduce global warming emissions, as follows:

  • Emissions from energy used in Council public buildings have reduced by 67% since 2006/07
  • Stirling has the largest proportion of Council house roof-mounted solar panels of any Scottish Council, with almost 970 panels fitted by the end of 2018/19.
  • More than 70% of the street lighting network has been converted to LEDs
  • Council fleet is being transformed to electric vehicles (EVs) with 34 cars, 10 vans and 4 minibuses to be added to the existing fleet (of 8 cars and 4 vans) during 2020
  • A comprehensive EV charging network will be installed during 2020/21, including a solar-powered charging hub at Castleview
  • The Council has developed the first phase of an innovative district heating network for the city at Forthside.
  • Delivery of a programme of active travel infrastructure projects, including the Walk, Cycle, Live Stirling project.
  • Use of paper across the Council has reduced by 53% since 2006/07
  • The proportion of household waste composted or recycled was 59.3% in 2018/19.

Delivering a sufficiently robust and radical response to the climate emergency will be extremely challenging, requiring action across all Council services and significant collaboration with the wider public sector, our voluntary and business communities, and citizens.  In addition to the undoubted challenges, the changes required will also provide significant opportunities for Stirling to modernise and transform the local area while reaping the economic benefits from a just transition away from fossil fuels, development of a more circular economy, and enhancement of the natural environment on which we all depend.