Annual review and update of actions to tackle climate emergency

Two years after East Lothian Council’s Climate Change Strategy 2020-2025 was launched, the second annual update was noted and approved at today’s (Wednesday 26 January) Cabinet meeting.

The Climate Change Strategy sets out East Lothian Council’s commitment to tackling the Climate Emergency at  a local level and sets out the vision and overall aims for a ‘Net Zero Council’ and a ‘Carbon Neutral East Lothian’ with specific outcomes, key priority areas and actions over an initial five year period towards achieving these overall aims.

Since the launch of the strategy it was recognised that although many planned priorities and actions have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic other opportunities have arisen which can result in a positive impact in reducing carbon emissions.

Council Leader, Cllr Norman Hampshire, said: “The Climate Emergency was very much at the forefront of local, national and global agendas in 2021 with the hosting in Glasgow of the UN COP26 climate summit. It reinforced the need for individuals, businesses and governments to not just identify ways to tackle climate change but to be actively and immediately engaged in actions to support the reduction of carbon emissions.”

“This annual update provides a clear indication of East Lothian Council’s progress as an organisation and employer to reduce its carbon footprint and also identifies actions and achievements within our local communities.  The COVID-19 pandemic changed the work patterns for many council staff with the majority of office-based employees working from home for all or most of their working week. This has resulted in a number of benefits including significant decrease in travel emissions and reduction in office printer use. As we embark on a ‘Green Recovery’ from the pandemic the council will continue to roll out new ways of working including the more efficient use of office space.”

“The council’s overall carbon footprint has continued to reduce with a further fall of 6.4% from the previous year despite significant population growth. We are now considering whether our progress in reducing our carbon footprint should be more closely aligned with the county’s growth as there are significant increases in the council’s estate currently planned including new schools.”

“Noted with the strategy update is the ClimateEvolution Zone initiative which explores a vision of carbon neutrality for the future development and use of land in East Lothian including the potential wider new Blindwells settlement and the former Cockenzie Power Station site.

“An initial public consultation was held and comments received will assist the formulation of the ClimateEvolution Vision and Action Plan. This is a major piece of work which includes active travel options, innovative energy generation and enhancing and protecting the natural environment.”

Key achievements noted within the annual review include:

  • The Council has successfully applied for and received funding of £1.1m from the Scottish Government Energy Efficiency: Area Based Scheme. The project includes installation of external wall insulation (EWI) and cavity wall insulation (CWI) insulation and solar PV and air source heat pumps in areas of fuel poverty.
  • ‘Vehicle to the Grid’ (V2G) is a vehicle-charging technology currently being trialled by the Council at Penston House. The technology enables energy from the battery of an electric car to be pushed back to the grid when the car is not being used. This is an innovative step to balance energy demand.
  • Waste Services reported an increase in East Lothian’s household recycling rate to 52.4% (2020) of total household waste recycled. The carbon impact of waste reduced by 11 tCO2e.
  • 385 central heating upgrades (including condensing boilers & high heat retention storage heating) and 124 insulation measures (including lofts, cavity wall, and external wall) were completed to improve energy efficiency in the Council’s domestic and private stock.

East Lothian Council’s Climate Change Strategy 2020-2025 is available to view and download on the council website and the annual update approved today by Cabinet can be viewed here Agendas, reports and minutes | East Lothian Council

Published: Wednesday, 26th January 2022