East Ayrshire Council has joined 88 other councils across the UK in an ambitious pledge to beat UK Government climate change targets by becoming a Net Zero Council by 2030 – 15 years ahead of the deadline set for the UK as a whole.
88 cross-party Mayors and Leaders of Councils, representing over half of the UK population, from London to rural Scotland, are now committed to meeting Net Zero. All these authorities have signed UK100’s ‘Net Zero Pledge’ which commits them to neutralising council emissions by 2030 and those of their residents and businesses (area-wide emissions) by 2045
Cllr Douglas Reid, Leader of East Ayrshire Council, signed the pledge together with Councillor Claire Leitch, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, Net Zero, Environment and Climate Change, Equalities and Inclusion. He said: “We all now recognise that we are in the middle of a global climate emergency. Climate change has become the collective action problem of our era.
“In Scotland, we have the most ambitious climate legislation in the world. Despite the challenges of COVID-19, we have decided to go beyond the already stringent Scottish Government targets.
“We’ve signed up to the UK100 and aim to become a net zero Council by 2030, and are doing all we can to help our wider communities achieve net zero by 2045. Our aim is to end our local contribution to climate change within a generation.
“As proof of our commitment we’ve carried out a council wide review of our services, looking at all the ways in which we can reduce our carbon emissions in the way we work and in our buildings and use of equipment and resources. And we’ve also looked at how we can work with residents, businesses and partner organisations to achieve net zero in our wider communities too.
Councillor Leitch added: “We’ve just held our second successful Children and Young People’s Climate Change Conference, organised by our Children and Young People’s Cabinet, which brought together over 700 students from schools across East Ayrshire to learn more about and discuss climate change.
"Our new strategy came about as a result of the pleas of our young people at the first conference. They asked us to look at everything the council and our communities do, and look for viable, new and innovative ways to cut emissions. Our second conference allowed us to mark our current progress and gave us the opportunity to discuss ideas which will see further progressive change.
“In November this year the world will look to Scotland as the venue for the United Nations COP26 climate summit. This marks the most important moment for the international climate challenge since the Paris Agreement in 2015.
“Having this event on our doorstep provides us with the unique opportunity to show what is special about East Ayrshire and to highlight the creative thinking and practical work already taking shape in our area to meet our net zero emission targets.”
Christopher Hammond, Network Membership Director at UK100, said: “The fundamental challenge of our time is moving towards Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions to preserve our way of life and avert climate breakdown.
“As the international community comes together in Glasgow for COP26, global decisions need to be delivered at a local level. It's a task that will need bold leadership, legislative clarity, shifts in behaviour and enthusiastic adoption of new technologies.
“Local government is uniquely placed to overcome these challenges. Not only do theyprovide services, but they have a unique sphere of influence.
“Fantastic things are already happening from UK100’s ambitious members, in county, city and town halls across the country. They are already playing a decisive role in tackling climate change ahead of the UK government's target, making their communities fairer, safer and greener."
Since December 2020, UK100’s membership of Net Zero authorities has more than doubled, from 41 to 88, highlighting the ambitious action of councils from rural and metro councils alike. There are now 88 cross-party local leaders, representing over half of the UK population and 34,030,804 million people, committed to meeting Net Zero at least five years earlier than the UK government.