Forward, faster, together: Edinburgh Climate Commission publishes principles for green recovery

22nd May 2020 - 16:23

The Edinburgh Climate Commission has presented a set of five principles to guide thinking around recovery from coronavirus and accelerate the city's transition to being carbon neutral.

The principles draw on an already strong and consistent body of work from the UK Committee on Climate Change, the OECD, leading academics, C40 Cities, The Energy Transition Commission and other organisations. 

They are published in advance of a short paper in June setting out key recommendations that, if adopted, will help not only accelerate Edinburgh's response to the climate crisis but also create good jobs, improve public health and strengthen the resilience of the city and attract investment.  

The open letter, addressed "to all who will play a part in shaping Edinburgh's recovery from Covid-19 and our response to the climate emergency", states:

"We know that climate-friendly stimulus policies to reboot economies offer a far better mechanism for boosting jobs and growth, compared to unconditional bailouts for high carbon industries.  We can see this in the higher than average returns from the green investments made following the 2008 financial crisis.

"Armed with this understanding, and driven by the urgency of now to address inequality, improve public health and tackle climate change, we must act to prevent the climate emissions bounce we saw in 2010 and instead build back better.

"Clearly the City of Edinburgh Council has a hugely important role to play in reshaping the city.  However, the actions of others will also greatly determine the path we emerge on.  Of critical importance will be the support framework provided by the Scottish and UK Governments and the actions of businesses across Edinburgh. 

"Companies are looking across their business models and practices and they too must look to build forward faster to a fairer, net zero future, and respond to the changed needs of people in our city. Many of these companies are committed to the Sustainable Development Goals and now progress towards those goals can be accelerated by applying the following principles."

The Principles

1. GO FASTER: Accelerate the transition to net zero; lock in carbon reductions & low carbon behaviours; lock out a rollback to business-as-usual.

2. DO BETTER: Measure what matters; judge success against more than economic indicators; inlcude biodiversity, wellbeing and carbon reductions.

3. BUILD STRONGER: Unleash potential of local communities & producers; showcase innovation and positive adaptation; empower everyone to play their part in building a city resilient to future crises.

4. THINK BIGGER: Covid-19 has broken the belief that big change can't be done. The scale of our ambition, the breadth of our imagination; out commitment to collaborate and our willingness to embrace change must match the challenge of achieving net zero carbon emissions.

5. BE BOLDER: Use the voice as the capital of Scotland, to set the pace for climate action ahead of COP26; recognise the moral limits of markets and lead the debate on delivering a sustainable future.


The letter is signed by Edinburgh Climate Commision members Dr Sam Gardner (Chair), Councillor Adam McVey (Vice-Chair), Bridie Ashrowan, Teresa Bray, Sophie Eastwood, Clare Foster, Dr Alex Hilliam, Andrew Kerr, Diarmaid Lawlor, Sinéad McNulty, Calum Murray, Daisy Narayanan, Andrea Nicholas, Kaisie Rayner and Professor Dave Reay.

Read the full text of the letter in the downloads below.