Climate Change Strategy

The Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan links to the overall strategic direction of Perth & Kinross Council as set out within both the Community Plan and Corporate Plan. It also is reflected within the Perth and Kinross Offer 5 E’s as well as demonstrating our commitment to the environment and climate change as set out within the Investment Blueprint. The importance of the Strategy and Plan will require to be reflected in Perth & Kinross Council's new Corporate Plan and Corporate Asset Management Plan due to be developed next year.

The development and delivery of this Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan is the next phase in Perth & Kinross Council's growing commitment to supporting sustainable communities across Perth and Kinross. This includes establishing Perth’s place as one of Europe’s most sustainable small cities as well as setting out our commitment to meeting the Scottish Government’s 2045 net zero ambitions

Six high-level principles have been identified as the pillars of Perth & Kinross Council's approach to Climate Change. Under each of these pillars, strategic commitments have been identified for Perth & Kinross Council to provide clarity to partners, residents, businesses over what our Climate Change Offer is. We will also develop a specific Climate Change Offer as a result of feedback from our residents and businesses, based on the model outlined within the Offer Framework.

Six overarching principles have been developed that will shape our long-term approach to Climate Change are:

Key Principles of our Climate Change Strategy

  • decarbonise our operations in-line with a 1.5oC trajectory and Scottish Government targets and support Perth and Kinross Council Area. These include a commitment to achieving a 75% reduction in emissions by 2030 and reaching net zero by no later than 2045
  • commit that all of Perth & Kinross Council investments will be aligned with the vision and plan for a net zero and climate resilient Perth and Kinross
  • allocate appropriate funding in capital and revenue budgets to achieve these commitments
  • deliver action across our priority themes of transport, buildings and energy, waste and the circular economy, business and industry, land use, climate resilience and, engagement & education
  • continue to develop the evidence base to ensure that the scale and pace of action, is sufficient to meet our targets
  • undertake an annual review of climate action plan and adapt as required
  • demonstrate our ability to work with and learn from other cities
  • mainstream climate resilience into all Perth & Kinross Council asset reviews and decisions
  • be proactive to the risks posed to Perth and Kinross by climate change
  • assess and review the strategic climate risk assessment for Perth and Kinross
  • continue to raise awareness within communities about how they can protect themselves from the effects of climate change
  • continue to take a proactive role in managing and, where achievable, reducing overall flood risk to homes and businesses in Perth and Kinross
  • promote land use practices and landscape scale changes that contribute to natural flood management including maximising the use of Blue Green Infrastructure in urban areas
  • ensure recovery actions are compatible with climate action plans
  • take action to reduce the prevalence of fuel and transport poverty amongst our residents
  • ensure climate action addresses rural, as well as more urban, climate challenges
  • improve the energy efficiency of our social housing estate and encourage our partners to do the same
  • promote healthy, seasonal and local eating
  • identify and address skills shortage in business and industry with key employers including in the supply chain
  • work with businesses in developing transition plans identify the skills needed for a green economy
  • support the on-going development of a circular economy in Perth and Kinross
  • declare an ecological emergency, as well as a climate one, and sign the Edinburgh Declaration on post-2020 global biodiversity framework
  • accelerate PKC biodiversity strategies and actions to keep pace with the UK and Scottish Government Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans
  • strengthen our capacity to implement nature-based solutions
  • monitor the impact of a changing climate on our ecosystems and take appropriate action
  • recognise the disproportionate impact of climate change on children and young people and listen to and act on their views, ideas and priorities
  • encourage and support children and young people to have their say on influencing the climate change response including by supporting their participation in the Climate Commission and Citizens Panels
  • ensure the curriculum supports learning about the causes and effects of climate change
  • ensure our children and young people develop an understanding of their own personal contribution to tackling climate change
  • set a good example by minimising the greenhouse gas emissions within the school estate by ensuring best practice is adopted in the fields of energy conservation, waste, water management and transport
  • utilise our school grounds where possible to promote an understanding of biodiversity, food growing and healthy eating
  • work in partnership with our residents, businesses and community partners and support them to make transformational change
  • act as an enabler to community-based climate action
  • develop where needed partnership agreements to provide accountability
  • consider the recommendations and guidance of the Perth and Kinross Climate Change Commission in future plans and action
  • provide and signpost our communities to trusted sources of advice and funding

The Funding Challenge

Adapting to, and mitigating, the impacts of climate change present significant challenges for the Perth & Kinross Council, our partner organisations, residents and businesses. The UK Climate Change Committee’s Sixth Carbon Budget (December 2020) indicated that a feasible path for the UK to meet its commitments requires average annual reductions in UK emissions equal to the total emission reductions achieved between 2012 and 2019. The Committee suggest this is clearly feasible, provided effective policies are introduced across the economy without delay. It estimates net costs of meeting the budget to be equivalent to less than 1% of GDP and so, to that end, climate investment needs to be dramatically scaled up. By 2030, across Scotland there needs to be £5-6 billion investment annually, up more than 10 times current levels.

It is too early to provide a realistic estimate of the share of this estimated £5-6 billion cost across Perth and Kinross. It will, however, have significant implications for the use of the Perth & Kinross Council overall budgets, and in particular of key capital and revenue programmes around waste, transport, fleet, flood management and the non-domestic and domestic estate. This will not all be new expenditure as there may be options to redirect existing budgets.

While the future challenges are significant, Perth & Kinross Council is already investing significant resources in its revenue and capital budgets to adapt its estate to meet the demands of the climate change agenda. However, compared to the scale of investment required with the statutory intermediate targets, in or around 2030, there requires to be consideration by Council on the level of commitment and steps it is required to make in order to change our pace of action. Investment allocated to achieving net zero will be considered by Council, alongside consideration of its other priorities and financial challenges.

The Investment Blueprint for Perth & Kinross Council states that Council capital expenditure will be aligned with the vision and plan for a net zero and climate resilient Perth and Kinross. However, to accelerate to the necessary pace and scale, decisions will be necessary in relation to overall resourcing, particularly in relation to funding priority areas which are likely to deliver the best return on investment in our journey to net zero. It is anticipated that these will include supporting electric vehicle transition, developing a mobility strategy, improving Perth & Kinross Council's built estate and supporting our communities to better understand and embrace the climate change agenda.

Current estimates of additional resources to deliver the action plan in Appendix D is estimated to be approximately £6.0M in 2022-23 and £5.9M in 2023-24, including the external funding which has already been identified. Prioritisation of key activities that can produce early impacts within the plan is underway to support the budget process. Officers will also continue to explore all opportunities to deliver these key priorities and maximise external funding support.

One of the most significant challenges in future years will be around capital investment in reducing the carbon footprint of transport and our domestic and non-domestic estate. In addition to the £11.9M identified for 2022-24, a further £29M of requirements for the period from 2024-2032 has already been identified. However, at this time, the full extent of the expenditure required is not yet known, however, it is likely to run into several hundreds of millions of pounds. Work is currently being commissioned to develop costed and prioritised programmes to address these challenging areas.

Perth & Kinross Council has already invested significant capital resources to demonstrate its commitments to tackling the climate challenges that it faces. These have included:

  • retrofitting energy saving measures in both our domestic and non-domestic property portfolios;
  • beginning the transitions of Perth & Kinross Council fleet to electric vehicles;
  • taking the opportunity to make improvements when planned maintenance is due and/ or replacing assets that deliver to net zero standards, most notably the replacement for Perth High School, the Balhousie/North Muirton Primary School and Blairgowrie Recreational Centre.

No single approach will provide the funding required to deliver a net zero Perth and Kinross and we will need to work with partners, communities and businesses to minimise the costs and access additional funding streams through efficient joint working and maximising the funding opportunities. Measures/opportunities which could lessen the funding challenges include joint working; external funding; charging and rent structures; commercial approaches and partnering with our communities.

In summary, it is not yet possible to fully cost the Strategy and Action Plan as there are currently many unknown aspects in areas such as external funding opportunities, income from a more commercial approach and the potential costs of ensuring that Perth & Kinross Council owned domestic and non-domestic properties are compliant with targets. As noted above, this could be hundreds of millions of pounds. It could also be anticipated that national targets may be accelerated, increasing the pace of required investment.

Until there is greater clarity about the financial assistance available from governments and other sources, funding will remain the most significant challenge to becoming net zero. Officers will pursue all available funding sources. However, given the current absence of further external funding sources, the achievement of net zero will not be possible, at the required pace. COSLA has recently highlighted to the Scottish Government the financial challenges in tackling climate change, noting that currently that Local Government is ill prepared for the climate challenge to come. Perth & Kinross Council will, however, continue to work with other Local Authorities and COSLA to highlight these areas and seek solutions.