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Signing up to tackle climate change

Issued: 17 Jan 2007

The Highland Council is joining forces with Local Authorities across Scotland to support Scotland's Climate Change Declaration, which will be signed today (Wednesday 17th January, 2007) by Convenor Alison Magee and Chief Executive Arthur McCourt.

Scotland's Local Authorities are at the forefront of this significant new commitment to mitigate against and adapt to climate change, launched earlier this week by Ross Finnie, Minister for the Environment. Each Council will produce and publicly declare a plan to achieve a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from their own operations, assess the risks and opportunities for services and communities of predicted climate change impacts, and take action to adapt accordingly.

Awareness and acceptance of the impact of global climate change is steadily increasing in the political, media and public arenas. Recent research shows important climatic changes up ahead for Scotland. There is a growing trend of warmer, wetter, and cloudier winters, and warmer, drier summers combined with an increase in the frequency of extreme weather events. Evidence of climate change in the UK includes a doubling in the number of winter storms over the past 50 years and the occurrence, since 1990, of the ten warmest years since records began.

By signing Scotland's Climate Change Declaration the Council is leading by example in helping to ensure greener, more efficient delivery of public services in the Highlands. This is demonstrated by pupils from Rosehall Primary School in Lairg, who will witness the signing ceremony before making a presentation to the Council's Sustainable Development Select Committee on a Biodiversity Game they helped to develop with the Highland One World Group. Biodiversity is short for 'biological diversity', or the variety of plants and animals in the world. The wooden board game, known as 'The Eagles Kingdom' is an educational interactive tool that highlights the importance of biodiversity, what it means to the Highlands and its potential global impact.

Scotland's Climate Change Declaration complements the Council's existing commitments to tackling climate change. In 2006 the Council adopted ambitious plans to limit CO2 emissions in Council buildings, vehicle fleets, street lighting and landfill sites, in collaboration with the Carbon Trust, a Government backed company helping business and the public sector move towards a low carbon economy. All fossil fuels (including oil, gas coal, petrol and diesel) produce carbon emissions, which are understood to trap heat in the earth's atmosphere leading to an increase in global warming and ultimately, climate change. The Council is limiting CO2 emissions through the promotion of renewable energy and improved standards of energy efficiency.

The Council has also begun to develop a Highland Climate Change Strategy, recognising the immediate need to develop climate change adaptation measures based on an assessment of risks and opportunities for services and communities. Adaptation measures include maintenance regimes and infrastructure upgrades to protect against extreme weather events, flood prevention and control, promoting resilient construction practice and strategic use of Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems.

Highland Council's Convener, Councillor Alison Magee said: "Climate change is one of the toughest new challenges facing local government and Scotland's Climate Change Declaration is a powerful demonstration of how Councils can work together to make a significant difference. I am delighted that this commitment is being supported wholeheartedly by Scottish Ministers. It is vital that the Council is in the front line in responding to the impacts of climate change in the Highlands, which includes the central commitment we have already made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This reinforces the Highlands' reputation as a green, clean and secure place for communities and visitors alike."

© 2010 Highland Public Services Partnership.
Project part-financed by the European Union (European Regional Development Fund) within the INTERREG IIIB Northern Periphery Programme