• Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

Preparing Edinburgh for net-zero: Edinburgh Council’s climate plans

ByJack Davies

Mar 29, 2023
Protesters hold signs on an Edinburgh street. The signs regard the negative impacts of climate change and implore people with authority to take action against it. They are backdropped by several stone buildings.

Having declared a climate emergency in 2019, Edinburgh council is currently on track to meet its target of net-zero emissions by 2030.

The plan aligns with the Scottish Government’s target of 75 per cent emissions reductions by 2030.

Climate change will see Edinburgh facing increased extreme rainfall throughout the year and hotter summers, especially in the city’s urban areas.

As well as causing damage and disruption to residents, weather changes and coastal erosion brought on by climate change will also harm Edinburgh’s ecosystems.

City of Edinburgh Council’s climate strategy states that energy accounts for 68 per cent of the city’s emissions, with half of this from residential buildings.

Improved energy efficiency is therefore central to the council’s strategy for achieving net zero.

The council’s strategy will require all new developments to be net-zero in operational emissions.

New developments must also connect to low-carbon heat generation sources such as heat networks that function as ‘central heating for cities’.

The plans will see Edinburgh’s historic landmarks renovated for energy efficiency.

City of Edinburgh Council also plans to modernise existing council-owned homes and deliver 10,000 new sustainable and affordable homes by 2027.

According to the strategy, the council will prioritise developing brownfields or vacant land and link developments with Edinburgh’s existing green and blue spaces.

A 20-minute neighbourhood model is being promoted, with areas redesigned over the coming years to emphasise mixed-use developments within a short distance from jobs and services.

Transport emissions account for nearly a third of total emissions but have proven “historically difficult to reduce” at the speed and scale necessary, according to the council.

A Low Emissions Zone will be enforced from June 1, 2024 around the city centre to decrease air pollution and incentivise public transport.

The minimum criteria for entry into the zone without penalty includes petrol and diesel cars generally registered from 2006 and September 2015 respectively.

Additionally, the City Centre Transformation Plan aims to make the city centre largely traffic-free by pedestrianising streets and restricting delivery vehicles.

One project will see a £36 million pedestrianisation of George Street that could begin construction next year.

A further plan has been set for increased cycling and pedestrian space from the Meadows to the Mound.

Other plans have also been announced, such as improving the city’s water management and developing a Green Investment Plan to support the city’s transition to net zero.

Council leader Adam McVey and deputy leader Cammy Day have said in a statement:

“Together we have enormous power and influence over the emissions in the city and we can create a thriving net zero future for the benefit of everyone.”

Image: “Global Climate Strike, Edinburgh” by Magnus Hagdorn is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0