New net-zero carbon roadmaps published for Belfast and Edinburgh

15th December 2020 - 14:30

New net-zero carbon roadmaps have been published by the Place-based Climate Action Network for Edinburgh and Belfast - with Leeds to go next in the new year.

The Edinburgh roadmap was released on 7 December, while the Belfast roadmap is launched today (15 December) at a livestreamed joint event with the Belfast Resilience Strategy, marking the publication of the city's first climate action plan.

The Leeds net-zero roadmap will be published with a webinar on 7 January 2021 and updates the carbon roadmap presented to Leeds City Council in April 2019. The new version will include the impact of the recommendations of the Leeds Climate Change Citizens' Jury.

The roadmaps use economic modelling to show how, by making changes to housing, buildings, transport and industry, the cities can accelerate towards net-zero emissions by their respective target dates: 2030 for Edinburgh and Leeds, and the UK target of 2050 for Belfast. 

They also quantify the financial and carbon benefits of intervening in these four key area, demonstrating energy savings and the potential for creating hundreds of new jobs.

The  roadmaps highlight that local authorities alone cannot deliver on cities' net-zero ambitions. Instead, they stress that to achieve the reduction in emissions, the public, private and third sectors need to work together - the ethos of the three core PCAN climate commissions for Belfast, Edinburgh and Leeds.

Building  a better future for Belfast

Author, writer and environmentalist Jonathon Porritt joined the launch of the Belfast roadmap, which was included in the official launch of Belfast's resilience strategy.

Porritt, who is founder director of Forum for the Future, joined Suzanne Wylie, Chief Executive, Belfast City Council and Professor Andy Gouldson, author of the Net Zero Carbon Roadmap for Belfast and a member of the PCAN team.

He said: "There’s so much ‘hot air’ about the climate emergency out there at the moment, from global summits to ever more soaring rhetoric on the home front, which makes it crucial that cities like Belfast take the lead in purposeful action planning. This event marks a really important milestone in that process.”

Commenting on Belfast's Resilience Strategy, Belfast Lord Mayor, Alderman Frank McCoubrey said: “As the world responds and recovers from a global pandemic, it is more crucial than ever to prioritise a sustainable and resilient strategy that supports our future wellbeing. 

“Since we declared a climate emergency last October, we have been taking a lead in the battle against climate change and this important strategy will enable us to work with others to ensure a collective response to addressing the issue of climate moving forwards.

“The strategy is about partnership and collaboration to build a better future, so understandably, a key focus is young people and finding ways to help create an active urban environment for children. It also addresses the need to create connections and connect people, sustainable transport and infrastructure in ways that achieve our economic and environmental goals.”

Introducing the Belfast Net-Zero Carbon Roadmap, which was produced by the PCAN team with Belfast Climate Commission, Professor Andy Gouldson said: "The Climate Plan and the Net Zero Carbon Roadmap for Belfast go hand in hand.

"Based only on the fuel and electricity used within its boundaries, Belfast will use up its share of the carbon budget through to 2050 in just over nine years. The roadmap sets out how Belfast can ensure rapid reductions in carbon emissions, which also fulfils the aim of Belfast’s Resilience Strategy.”

The Belfast Climate Commission was established in January 2020 and is co-chaired by Prof John Barry of Queen's University Belfast and PCAN, and Belfast's Commissioner for Resilience, Grainia Long, who is also the lead author of the Belfast Resilience Strategy,

Working together to bring change in Edinburgh

The City of Edinburgh and the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation (ECCI), working with PCAN, established the Edinburgh Climate Commission in February 2020, an independent body challenging and supporting the city on its climate ambitions.

Speaking about the Net-Zero Carbon Roadmap for Edinburgh, Professor Dave Reay, Director of ECCI and a member of the Edinburgh Climate Commission said: “Setting a net zero target is the easy part; planning how to reach it and delivering on that plan is the tough bit.

"In this net-zero roadmap, the scale of the challenge for Edinburgh is made clear. But, so too are the myriad actions that are possible”.

Prof Reay stressed the co-benefits to Edinburgh for taking action: “Many bring falling emissions alongside safer streets, new jobs and warmer homes. They speak to the diversity of our city and the keystone to success is collaboration across and within our communities.

"After a bleak year of being forced apart by Covid-19, we now have a crucial opportunity to come together on climate”.

 Watch the livestream of the Belfast event.

See downloads for the Edinburgh and Belfast Net-Zero Carbon Roadmaps.