Feb 292016

Aberdeenshire Green Councillor, Martin Ford.

With thanks to Martin Ford.

In 2007, Aberdeenshire Council set itself ambitious targets to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions – but the Council has not yet managed to achieve consistent year-on-year reductions in the amount of carbon dioxide generated by its activities.

“The Council must do better at meeting targets to cut its carbon emissions,” said Cllr Martin Ford. “And make cutting emissions a higher priority. That means a new approach is needed to when and where the Council takes its decisions about how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Aberdeenshire’s Democratic Independent and Green Group (DIGG) councillors – Martin Ford and Paul Johnston – secured agreement last summer that the Council’s new administration would support improvements to decision making about reducing carbon emissions.

The DIGG councillors then wrote to Aberdeenshire Council’s co-leaders last September making a specific proposal that the Council sets a carbon budget each year – detailing how and where it aims to reduce its carbon emissions – and that the carbon budget is agreed by the full council at the meeting which decides the Council’s revenue and capital budgets for the year ahead.

The Council’s co-leaders have now written to Cllr Ford and Cllr Johnston indicating their administration’s support for the DIGG carbon budgeting proposal.

A report from officers on carbon budgeting is now expected at the 10 March Aberdeenshire Council full council meeting.

Cllr Paul Johnston said:

“We are very pleased the administration has agreed with us about the need to improve governance and decision making in respect of the Council’s duty to cut its carbon emissions. The Council has challenging and ambitious targets to meet and it is important every councillor is involved in the decisions needed to deliver on those.”

Cllr Martin Ford said:

“Aberdeenshire Council agrees its overall financial plans for the year ahead on budget day in February each year – the revenue budget, capital plan and housing revenue account budget. But there should really be a fourth budget decided alongside the ‘money budgets’ – the Council’s plans for reducing its carbon emissions resulting from its various activities.

“The carbon budget is interlinked with the money budgets because some measures to reduce carbon emissions will incur capital costs, but also deliver revenue savings. So all the budgets ought to be considered at the same meeting and be consistent with each other.”

Aberdeenshire Council, like all Scottish councils, is required by the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 to exercise its functions ‘in the way best calculated to contribute to delivery of the Act’s emission reduction targets’. At the climate change conference in Paris late last year, 196 countries agreed to ‘hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels’.

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