Glasgow commits to becoming first zero-carbon city in the UK
Image credit: Dreamstime
Glasgow has announced new plans for reducing greenhouse emissions to net-zero and opened the race to become the first city in the UK to reach that goal by 2045.
As public awareness of the dangers of climate change and the impact of local carbon emissions on the national and international environment increases - several cities signed up to the idea of a climate change emergency in the past months - a few large city councils have now started to announce specific plans on how they plan to tackle their emissions.
Among wider grandstanding by UK cities for invoking change, Glasgow city council emerged at the pole position by announcing it had its eyes on the title to become the first net-zero emission city in the UK.
The city council, collaborating with Scottish Power - the distribution network operator for central and southern Scotland and other parts - pledged to make Britain‘s third-biggest city the first to reach a ‘net zero’ carbon emissions target and beat the 2045 overall objective set out by the Scottish government on Tuesday.
The announcement follows Nicola Sturgeon declaration of a “climate change emergency” at the SNP party conference recently.
It means that Glasgow council would need to emit the same amount of greenhouse gases as are being absorbed through other offsetting methods, including forestry. Via the ScottishPower and Glasgow city initiative, the aim is to decarbonise in the form of greener heating and transport solutions while increasing the investments flowing into the electricity grid. More charging locations for electric cars is also on the list of measures. Susan Aitken, Glasgow City Council leader said that “from the research by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to the appeals from our classrooms, our streets and civic squares, we know that emissions reduction is the issue of our times”.
On Tuesday, it announced that it would bring forward the date for reaching net zero emissions to “well before” 2045 - earlier than a previous 2050 target.
Advice from the Committee on Climate Change urged Scotland to settle on a tougher target - five years ahead of the UK as a whole because of tree planting.
However, environmental activists appear unimpressed by the pledge. Responding to the Scottish government, Extinction Rebellion Scotland said that an emergency requires an emergency response and that the updated targets would "not come even close". Instead, it is calling for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions to be reached in six years time.
There are remaining issues in Glasgow's plans. More than 70 per cent of the city's residents live in flats that do not cater for charging electric vehicles, as they have no off-street parking. Scottish Power said it plans a charging system where people can rapidly charge their vehicles away from home - at work or at public charging locations. As sites for these locations face scrutiny, there is hope that the scheme could become a template for other UK cities facing the same issues.
One-quarter of Britain's renewable capacity is based in Scotland, with wind power notably increasing in recent years as a source of energy.
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