Falkirk councillors pledge to tackle climate change

Falkirk Council has set ambitious plans in place to make the council's emissions net-zero by 2030.
Falkirk Council has set ambitious plans in place to make the council's emissions net-zero by 2030.

Falkirk councillors have pledged to tackle climate change by getting the council’s emissions to net-zero by 2030 – 15 years earlier than the Scottish government target.

Falkirk Council’s executive recently agreed to commit to the new targets and the establishment of a working group to oversee the changes, with councillors from every party and officers to advise them.

Councillor Paul Garner, the SNP’s environment spokesperson, said: “Yes, our target of becoming carbon neutral by 2030 is ambitious but achievable. Climate impacts are already being witnessed and indeed experienced across the planet as we are all witnessing in the catastrophic events in Australia just now .

“We’re facing extreme weather events on a more regular basis, catastrophic loss of wildlife and a crisis over future access to freshwater and food.

“The worrying acceleration of climate change and its impacts mean we need to act and we need to act now, the time for talking is over.”

In September last year, Holyrood declared a climate emergency and brought in new laws that forced councils and other bodies to reach net-zero emissions by 2045.

The council declared its own climate emergency at a meeting in early September and asked for a report into what exactly would be needed to reach their net-zero target by 2030.

When the report was presented to them last week, they were left in little doubt about the scale of the challenge facing them. In the next 10 years, the council will have to reduce business mileage by 90 per cent – and cut electricity use by more than half.

It must also reduce its use of gas in buildings by 86.5 per cent; electricity in buildings by 61.5 per cent; vehicle fuel by 80 per cent and waste by 70 per cent.

The executive also heard that making the council’s buildings and fleet energy efficient would not be cheap – with a cost estimated at £165 million.

Robin Millard, the council’s head of design, roads and transport, who presented the report to councillors, says the pilot project should mean they can get a more accurate picture of the costs involved.

He is also hopeful that their ideas will be supported by the Scottish Government which is funding the pilot.

But while government and council will lead the way, people in the district will have a role to play too, as waste is by far the biggest contributor to CO2 for the council.

Mr Millard told members: “A very significant drop in waste produced by the council but also from households must be achieved, as even recycling and composting produces emissions.”

While reducing waste full stop is the ideal, the next best thing is to increase recycling rates.

These will have increased thanks to the burgundy bin which stops paper and card being contaminated and means it can be recycled easily.

And by the end of 2021 they hope a new process will be in place that will allow  waste that cannot be recycled to be used to create fuel, reducing landfill to almost zero.

People can make a difference by thinking about how they travel while the council has pledged to continue to improve its path network.