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Highland Council launches 'challenging' Net Zero Strategy to tackle climate emergency

By Neil MacPhail

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Green trio (from left) council leader Raymond Bremner, chief executive Derek Brown, and chair of climate change committee Karl Rosie.
Green trio (from left) council leader Raymond Bremner, chief executive Derek Brown, and chair of climate change committee Karl Rosie.

The Highland plan to meet the national legally binding net zero targets by 2045 was spelled out at council's climate change committee along with a warning against a "business as usual" attitude.

Highland Council has adopted the Scottish Government’s Net Zero by 2045 target, aiming to achieve this sooner.

The council has also set key interim targets to reduce emissions by at least 75% by 2030 and at least 90% by 2040.

Leader of the council, Cllr Raymond Bremner, said: “The strategy provides a framework for reducing corporate emissions and preparing for the unavoidable impacts of climate change.

“The need for sustainability and a just transition will be at the heart of everything we do in our commitment to delivering Net Zero by 2045.”

Cllr Bremner highlighted: “Although the journey to net zero will be challenging, climate action can deliver comprehensive economic, environmental, social and health benefits. We must embrace the potential of the ‘green economy’ and nurture the development of new industries that create jobs and wealth.”

The council’s climate change committee will oversee the delivery of the strategy.

Chairman of the climate change committee, Cllr Karl Rosie, said: “We are three years into a critical decade for tackling climate change. Highland Council declared a climate and ecological emergency in 2019.

“Whilst good progress has been made towards our climate change ambitions, we will not achieve the targets outlined in our route map to Net Zero by taking a ‘business as usual’ approach.

“Transformational change is required across the council to integrate climate change mitigation, adaptation, and sustainability measures into all operations and service delivery.

"Embedding climate change into everyday decision-making will be critical.”

Highland Council chief executive, Derek Brown, emphasised that all staff and elected members will have a key role in helping the local authority adapt to meet the challenges of climate change and deliver Net Zero.

He said: “While the strategy focuses on council operations, we recognise we have a leadership role and aim to become an exemplar in delivering ambitious, transformative action to tackle climate change.

“As a major employer, we also have a fantastic opportunity to deliver climate action throughout the Highlands, inspiring our collective workforce to adopt positive low carbon behaviour.”

Highland Council’s Net Zero Strategy can be found here.

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