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Sustainable development and climate change strategy

Sustainable Development and Climate Change Strategy - Our future is now

Influence and drivers

Since the last strategy was developed, there have been a number of external factors and changes, both globally and nationally, that have influenced our strategic approach to sustainable development and climate change, including the Covid-19 pandemic, the national declaration of a climate emergency, new greenhouse gas emission targets for Scotland, and COP26 to name a few. The urgency and pace and scale of action required within the term of this strategy is significant.

  • Scotland’s First Minister declared a Climate Emergency in May 2019 following a special report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2018, which stated that by 2030 it will be too late to limit warming to 1.5 degrees; that the world must act now.

  • Following independent, expert advice from the UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC) in May 2019, the Scottish Government responded immediately with amendments to Scotland’s Climate Change Act to set a 2045 target for net-zero emission of all greenhouse gases, and new interim targets of 75% reduction in emissions by 2030, and 90% reduction in emissions by 2040, relative to 1990 levels. As a public sector body, we have a legislative requirement to contribute to these targets and are required to set and report on our own carbon reduction targets.

  • Scotland’s Climate Change Plan 2018-2032 was updated in December 2020 and sets out the pathway to the new and ambitious targets set by the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Act 2019. The updated climate change plan is also a key strategic document in Scotland’s green recovery from Covid-19. The climate change plan, and associated suite of documents, set national milestones that we must meet. These milestones have been a major factor in the development of this strategy.

  • The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed major weaknesses in our economy and deep-seated inequalities in our society that have resulted in the most vulnerable people being hit the hardest. As the world recovers, we have a chance to reset the clock and build back better than before. Central to this approach is a focus on well-being and inclusiveness, as well as alignment with long-term emission reduction goals, building resilience to climate impacts, slowing biodiversity loss, and a transition to a circular economy. There has been a renewed emphasis on the importance of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework for action in building back better. We have used the SDGs to help shape our strategy.

  • Scotland is already experiencing the effects of climate change, such as warmer summers and wetter winters. Climate projections indicate that these trends will not only continue but intensify. Adapting and building resilience to the impacts of climate change will be necessary, alongside actions to reduce emissions. Many of these impacts are now “locked in” as a result of historic and ongoing emissions. Scotland's second Climate Change Adaptation Programme (SCCAP2) was launched in September 2019 and outlines action to adapt for impacts of climate change that cannot be avoided. As part of the council’s legislative requirement, it must also contribute to Scotland’s Adaptation Programme.

  • More locally, Climate Ready Clyde – of which the council are members – has developed Glasgow City Region’s first Climate Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan, which was launched in June 2021. The Strategy aims to ensure Glasgow City Region’s economy, society, and environment is not only prepared for, but continues to flourish in the face of the impacts arising from the climate crisis. The Adaptation Strategy has helped to shape our strategic approach to climate adaptation.

  • The UK hosted the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow between 31 October 2021 and 13 November 2021. The COP26 summit ended in almost 200 countries agreeing the Glasgow Climate Pact which will accelerate action on climate this decade. This strategy will form part of the council’s legacy from COP26.

  • The council has Public Sector Climate Change duties to which they must comply. These include: contributing to achieving Scotland’s climate change targets; adapting to the impacts of climate change; and acting sustainably in their activities. In addition, all public sector bodies must report annually to the Scottish Government on their carbon emissions and action to tackle climate change. In November 2020, changes to the annual report came into force whereby the council must review and deliver on its carbon emission reduction targets and align its spending plans and use of resources to these reducing emissions. Guidance has been prepared for the public sector on the changes to the annual report, and this guidance has helped to shape this strategy

Extensive engagement and consultation took place during the development of the strategy.

See our Engagement and consultation page