Urgent action required: Edinburgh Climate Commission's green recovery report

8th July 2020 - 17:57

Ensuring that Edinburgh’s future infrastructure and capital investments contribute to a green future is just one of the recommendations for a green recovery in a report produced by the Edinburgh Climate Commission. The Commission’s inaugural report sets out 10 recommendations for Edinburgh’s green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and will be considered by the City of Edinburgh Council’s Policy and Sustainability Committee on Thursday 9 July.

Led by Chair Dr. Sam Gardner, the Commission, which is part of the Place-based Climate Action Network (PCAN), is the only independent climate commission in Scotland. It was created in February 2020 to accelerate the action on climate change in Edinburgh. The Commission has 15 expert commissioners from a variety of sectors and backgrounds and has committed to a series of reports that will lead, inform and shape the ambition to be a Carbon Neutral City by 2030.

A working group, led by finance expert Commissioner Kaisie Rayner, has produced its first report, ‘Forward Faster Together - Recommendations for A Green Economic Recovery in Edinburgh' addressing the city’s compound emergencies: the global climate crisis and recovery from the global pandemic.

Dr Gardner is expected to call on the Council to commit to a green economic recovery, investing in net zero transport infrastructure; prioritising capital projects that deliver a greener, healthier city environment and investing in local economies with shorter supply chains that support local jobs and community wellbeing.


The Commission’s 10 recommendations call for:

  1. A joint commitment to Green Economic Recovery from Local and National Government
  2. Public stimulus and organisational investment decisions should be conditional upon contributing to a greener future
  3. Redesign and invest in carbon neutral transport infrastructure
  4. A city-wide approach to energy efficiency and renewable heat
  5. Localise services, support and infrastructure to build community resilience
  6. Focus on wellbeing in natural and built environment investments
  7. Embrace new business practices to reimagine building assets and opportunities for the city
  8. Grow skills and knowledge to deliver a city green recovery and lead a global transition
  9. Develop low carbon sectors and business models to make the city globally competitive
  10. Become a global leader in sustainable investment

"Seize the moment"

Edinburgh Climate Commission Chair, Dr. Sam Gardner, said:

“COVID-19 has shown the power of common purpose; we must now seize the moment created by the devastating pandemic to tackle the climate emergency and secure a fairer more sustainable future for this City and its people.

“Edinburgh must plot a path to recovery that delivers new jobs, builds resilience and attracts investment. A green recovery does this and gives meaning to the phrase ‘build back better’; it kick-starts the much-needed acceleration to a net zero city by 2030 while improving our health and resilience to future shocks.”

“A green economic recovery is in the best interests of the whole city.”

Commissioner, Kaisie Rayner, said:

“Throughout this pandemic we have acted together to protect our families, our communities and have placed the highest value on our collective wellbeing. As we emerge from lockdown, millions of pounds are expected to be spent on our city’s recovery and it is imperative that every penny is spent wisely, delivering an economic recovery that benefits us all.

“The climate emergency hasn’t gone away and while our response to COVID 19 has seen a temporary drop in emissions it is clearly not how we need to tackle climate change. We need a planned response that has a sustained impact and puts people’s wellbeing at its heart.

“This report recommends a way forward that will position Edinburgh as a fair and sustainable economic leader in the low carbon global economies of the future and we must make the right choices now so that we create a City worth living in for ourselves and for the generations that will follow us.”

Green recovery "the only option"

Edinburgh Climate Commission Vice Chair and Council Leader, Cllr. Adam McVey, said:

“The Edinburgh Climate Commission was formed out of a necessity to tackle climate change in Edinburgh as an urgent priority. I am very appreciative of the immense work and effort that has gone into the creation of this report by the other Commissioners and the support from the Edinburgh Centre of Carbon Innovation and the University of Edinburgh.

“It has become clear that if we are to rebuild Edinburgh as a city of the future, then a green recovery is our only option. I welcome the Commission’s recommendations and I’m committed to making sure that these are central drivers within our post-Covid plans, both short term and long term, to deliver our 2030 carbon target.”

Edinburgh Climate Commission, along with climate commissions in Leeds and Belfast, are all part of the Place-Based Climate Action Network (PCAN), which is funded by UKRI ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council). PCAN brings together the research community and decision makers across the private, public and third sectors through city-based climate commissions, in a network that is expanding across the UK. The Edinburgh Climate Commission includes local partners, the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation and the University of Edinburgh.