Public Sector Responses to Climate Change: Evaluating the Role of Scottish Local Government in Implementing the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009

Tony Jackson, William Lynch


Effective climate change actions demand collaborative action from public bodies at all levels, placing local governance at the forefront of delivery. Scottish legislation imposes some of the most demanding legally-binding requirements for reducing greenhouse gas emissions currently to be found anywhere in the world. The new climate change obligations on Scottish local government are reviewed in the context of current Scottish emissions and UK energy policies. Analysis indicates that the pattern of carbon consumption rather than its production must be targeted, and that local government is well-placed to deliver many of the policies to this end. Case studies of Fife and Highland Councils show how Scottish local authorities (SLAs) are planning to discharge their climate change mitigation and adaptation responsibilities. Energy efficiency is driving the mitigation of carbon consumption, while new techniques for measuring carbon footprints are being used to adapt the development process to a low carbon mode. SLAs must pursue low-cost local climate change solutions not just to enhance the resilience of Scottish communities but also to demonstrate the feasibility of such approaches for local governance systems elsewhere in the face of growing financial constraints. Recent changes in Scottish waste management practices indicate the potential in this respect.

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