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Climate Leadership In Scotland

Cities across the world have much to learn from their peers in Scotland. In India, too, we must encourage cities to think green and act smart – by using clean energy.

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The COP-26 Climate Summit has ended on a mixed note. Like the rolling highlands of Scotland, the outcome has both its highs and lows. There are grand and rosy commitments by world leaders and yet there are disappointments for activists demanding a phase-out of unabated use of coal and of inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels.  

Scotland, the venue of the conference, has found its place in climate history. The Scottish government has already set a legally-binding target to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2045, five years ahead of the date set for the UK as a whole, having already reduced them to about half of what they were 30 years ago. Scotland plans renewable energy generation to account for 50% of energy demand across electricity, heat and transport by 2030 and has set a target of generating the equivalent of 100% of its electricity demand from renewables by 2020. The country has been moving away from burning fossil fuels, with the last coal-fired power station, Longannet, closing in 2016. Onshore wind delivers about 70% of capacity, followed by hydro and offshore wind as Scotland's main sources of renewable power. It’s Beatrice offshore wind farm has 84 turbines - each with three 75m (246ft) blades,  capable of generating enough power for 450,000 homes.

Another such wind farm under construction off Angus, is slated to be even bigger and able to power 1.3m homes. Even as the number of new electric and hybrid cars registered in the UK rose steeply the availability of publicly-available charge points in Scotland has grown to match that requirement ahead of time. Most of the trees planted in the UK have been planted in Scotland - 11,000 of the 13,700 hectares planted in 2019-20. By 2024, the Scottish government aims to be creating 18,000 hectares of new woodlands per year, with the ultimate goal of having 21% of Scotland's land covered by forest by 2032 - compared to 19% today.

The Glasgow declaration for Zero-Emission Cars and Vans aims to end the sale of internal combustion engines by 2035 in leading markets, and by 2040 worldwide.  This is an honor for Glasgow, a port city on the River Clyde in Scotland's western Lowlands famed for its Victorian and art nouveau architecture, and now to be remembered for the climate change conference. 

Another stellar example of Scottish climate change abatement sensitivity is Aberdeen, a port city in northeast Scotland, where the Dee and Don rivers meet the North Sea. With an offshore petroleum industry, the city is home to an international population. It has committed to becoming a zero-emission city. It had recently bid out for a hydrogen partnership which has been bagged by BP. Aberdeen City Council had embarked upon its hydrogen journey more than 10 years ago and has already demonstrated how demand can be created within cities, using the zero emission fuel to power a fleet of 25 buses, 60 public sector vehicles and waste trucks, as well as the P&J Live events complex. More than two million passengers have travelled on the city’s hydrogen buses, and CO2 savings to date are in excess of 100 tons over the last six years. This city wants to develop an integrated, end-to-end energy system for the city based on green hydrogen. The hub will build on Aberdeen’s leading position as a global energy excellence center, particularly one for hydrogen technology.

Cities across the world have much to learn from their peers in Scotland. In India, too, we must encourage cities to think green and act smart – by using clean energy.  

The author is a former Secretary Government of India

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Raghav Chandra

Former Secretary Government of India

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