RSE Inquiry Report Facing up to Climate Change: breaking the barriers to a low-carbon Scotland launched

“Scotland, with its rich renew­able resources, world class research base, exper­i­ence in the oil and gas industry and lead­ing fin­an­cial insti­tu­tions, has much to gain from the move to a low-car­bon soci­ety. We’re on the verge of a new form of indus­tri­al revolu­tion and Scotland could bene­fit from nov­el eco­nom­ic oppor­tun­it­ies, increased energy secur­ity and bet­ter use of resources to build stronger, more sus­tain­able com­munit­ies” com­ments Professor David Sugden, Chair of the RSE’s Inquiry.
Facing up to Climate Change: break­ing the bar­ri­ers to a low-car­bon Scotland iden­ti­fies the obstacles that are stop­ping us from tak­ing steps towards a low-car­bon soci­ety. It recog­nises that there is a wealth of activ­ity at EU, UK and Scottish level, includ­ing in loc­al author­it­ies, com­munit­ies, house­holds and civil soci­ety, but that there is an acute need for coher­ence and integ­ra­tion between these levels.
The Inquiry Report, launched on 1 March 2011, sets out 10 Primary Recommendations aimed at help­ing policy makers to design policy in such a way that it over­comes the bar­ri­ers. It calls for gov­ern­ment and organ­isa­tions to embed low-car­bon policies across all func­tions and for closer engage­ment between people, civil soci­ety, mar­ket and state.
This Report is the res­ult of an extens­ive con­sulta­tion pro­cess across Scotland dur­ing which evid­ence was taken from over 110 pub­lic, private and third sec­tor organ­isa­tions, as well as from around 40 indi­vidu­als, a num­ber of pub­lic meet­ings around Scotland, involving some 400 people, and a nation­al Schools’ Competition. It has been for­mu­lated by a Committee chaired by Professor Sugden, an inter­na­tion­ally renowned cli­mate sci­ent­ist based at Edinburgh University, with mem­bers whose expert­ise cov­ers the nat­ur­al and social sci­ences, busi­ness, policy and education.
The Report con­siders the issues of cli­mate change, sus­tain­ab­il­ity and oppor­tun­it­ies for cre­at­ing a more sus­tain­able, fairer world. It looks at the sci­ence of cli­mate change and its implic­a­tions at both a glob­al and Scottish scale and out­lines the eco­nom­ic, social and envir­on­ment­al con­texts that will shape Scotland’s move to a low-car­bon future. The Report then focuses on the find­ings of the Inquiry and the implic­a­tions for Scotland, look­ing first to pub­lic bod­ies (loc­al author­it­ies, edu­ca­tion, water), then to key eco­nom­ic sec­tors (fin­ance, energy, oth­er industry, heat­ing, trans­port and land use).
Finally the Report looks at the per­vas­ive chal­lenges arising from multi-level gov­ernance and how they may be addressed. It is this ana­lys­is that forms the basis of our ten Primary Recommendations, and sets out also 30 Supplementary Recommendations aimed at policy makers in the spe­cif­ic  sec­tors out­lined above.
The Summary Report can be down­loaded here (2.16Mb)

The Full Report (low res) can be down­loaded here (6.40Mb)

Ten Primary Recommendations of the Report
1. The UK Government should urgently improve the infra­struc­ture and man­age­ment of the elec­tri­city grid in Scotland to optim­ise the devel­op­ment of renew­able energy and to per­mit the export of sur­plus renew­able energy.
2. The Scottish and UK Governments need to ret­ro­fit exist­ing reg­u­la­tion to achieve a bal­ance with the need to reduce car­bon emissions.
3. The Scottish Government should work with loc­al author­it­ies and busi­nesses to align and sharpen reg­u­la­tion in order to achieve a step change in energy effi­ciency in build­ings and transport.
4. The Scottish Government and loc­al author­it­ies should jointly intro­duce truly integ­rated polices in order to achieve effect­ive reduc­tions in emis­sions at a region­al level.
5. The Scottish Government should devel­op a spa­tially-ref­er­enced nation­al land use plan integ­rated with region­al stra­tegic plans in order to optim­ise car­bon sequestration
6. The fin­ance industry should take a lead and work with gov­ern­ment to cre­ate the busi­ness envir­on­ment that will mobil­ise private fin­ance in sup­port of a low-car­bon society.
7. All organ­isa­tions should appraise their goals and prac­tices in the light of the urgency to achieve a low-car­bon society.
8. Local author­it­ies should integ­rate and embed their low-car­bon policies across all their vari­ous functions.
9. The Scottish Government and loc­al author­it­ies should act­ively assist loc­al com­munit­ies to intro­duce low-car­bon initiatives.
10. Closer engage­ment is needed between people, civil soci­ety, mar­ket and state in the pur­suit of Scotland’s low-car­bon vision.
The remit of the inquiry was to:
1. To engage in delib­er­at­ive dia­logue with indi­vidu­als, indus­tries and pub­lic author­it­ies to help devel­op and respond to pro­posed Government cli­mate change policies;
2. To identi­fy bar­ri­ers to change and to recom­mend meas­ures for cur­rent and future policies in these areas and the times­cales on which action might need to be developed.
Chairman: Professor David Sugden FRSE.
Emeritus Professor of geo­graphy, School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh
Professor Alan Werritty FRSE (Deputy Chair).
Emeritus Professor of Physical Geography, School of the Environment, and UNESCO Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science, University of Dundee
Mrs Erica Caldwell FRSGS.
Hon. President of the Scottish Association of Geography Teachers; Senior Examiner, SQA; Former Faculty Head, Carnoustie High School
Professor Colin Campbell.
Science Leader, Soils Group, The Macaulay Institute, Visiting Professor Department of Soil and Environment, Swedish Agricultural Sciences University (SLU).
Dr Andrew Dlugolecki.
Former Director of General Insurance Development at Aviva; Member of the UK Adaptation Sub-Committee on Climate Change
Professor Nick Hanley.
Professor of Environmental Economics, University of Stirling
Dr Andrew Kerr.
Director of the Edinburgh Centre on Climate Change
Professor Janette Webb.
Professor of Sociology of Organisations, Institute of Governance,School in Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh
Inquiry Questions
The Committee invited writ­ten responses from Government bod­ies, com­pan­ies and indi­vidu­als on what they are doing in response to cli­mate change and what bar­ri­ers to change they are facing. The spe­cif­ic ques­tions can be down­loaded here. 


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