CLIMATE CHANGE: Argyll and Bute – the UK’s first net zero region?

By Aileen MacLennan

Plans are progressing for local events that will support the aims of the global climate change conference planned in Glasgow later this year.

Included is an event in Helensburgh that will raise the question – what do we need to do to make Argyll and Bute the UK’s first net zero region?

The council is organising a family-friendly event, with activities for all age groups, in the Civic Centre in Helensburgh. It is provisionally scheduled for Saturday 6th November. Actions and opportunities to achieve net zero status will cover everything from renewable energy to forestry, and food.

In addition the council is organising Argyll and Bute’s first ever Education Climate Summit on Wednesday 27th and Thursday 28th October 2021.

The summit will be held virtually with access for all Argyll and Bute schools and a range of community organisations. Twenty five educational establishments, charities, trusts and businesses have already agreed to participate and outline how they are tackling climate change.

These, and community-led events, are planned in line with the aims of the Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow’s Scottish Exhibition Centre (SEC) from 1st-12th November 2021.

Pope Francis, who will be at the Climate Change Conference in Glasgow.

Thousands of delegates including world leaders, potentially US President Biden, China’s President Xi Jinping and Pope Francis, are expected to come together to discuss global concerns about climate change.

Councillor Robin Currie, Leader of Argyll and Bute Council, said:  “The COP26 conference will focus attention on what we can and must do to work with rather than against the natural resources that sustain our lives.

Addressing climate change will take all of us to play our part, so it’s great to see plans progressing for people coming together locally to discuss this.

As a council we are taking a wide range of action to develop climate-friendly ways of working. We have ambitious climate targets to reach, and will use COP26 as an opportunity to support our work in achieving them.”

The council’s Policy and Resources Committee considered progress in planning these events, and the actions in the council’ decarbonisation plan, when it met today (12 August).

Meanwhile,  Argyll and Bute Council has given the green light for a new native woodland in Lochgilphead, as part of its work to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2045.

The scheme will see woodland planted across 60 hectares of council-owned land, located mostly around Kilmory. It will be delivered through a partnership between the council and Argyll and the Isles Coast and Countryside Trust (ACT).

Thirty hectares will be delivered through ACT’s compensatory planting agreement with Scottish & Southern Electric Networks (SSEN), part of SSEN’s project to upgrade overhead lines connecting Inveraray and Lochgilphead. The other 30 hectares will be planted using other public/private support for native woodland planting.

Over the past five years, the council has taken action that has reduced its carbon emissions by 27%. This woodland will deliver more progress towards achieving the national target set for all councils of being a net zero organisation by 2045.

Councillor Robin Currie, Leader of the Council, pictured right,  explains:  “We want to do more than stop climate change. We want to be proactively climate-friendly.

“This woodland initiative will off-set our carbon emissions. It will also bring more opportunities for environmentally-friendly communities.

“As part of our partnership with ACT, the project will allow for skills and training, health and wellbeing and biodiversity projects which benefit our people and support our natural assets.

“This is another important step towards becoming net zero by 2045.”

ACT was set up in 2014 with the support of Argyll and Bute Council, Forestry Commission Scotland (Scottish Forestry), Scottish Natural Heritage (NatureScot) and NHS, to work with the community to make the most of the local environment.

Chairman Ross Lilley said: “ACT is delighted to be able to work in partnership with Argyll and Bute Council to help combat climate change and restore biodiversity whilst realising benefits for our communities.  It complements ACT’s work on peatland and woodland restoration elsewhere in Argyll.”

Top : Carefully planted trees on a hillside in Glen Fruin, near Helensburgh. Picture by Bill Heaney

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