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Climate change

There is clear and compelling evidence that our climate is beginning to change as a result of human activities. The increase in concentration in the atmosphere of greenhouse gases through fossil fuel burning, agriculture and industrial processes means that heat is trapped, warming the planet.

Whilst some greenhouse gas effects are necessary, the relatively short period of time over which the man made changes have occurred means that natural systems cannot cope with the amounts of greenhouse gas, or adapt in time. The effects of climate change are still being debated and contested. In 2007 however the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a range of reports stating (with high confidence) that climate change is happening, and predicted a range of effects on local and global processes.

For residents of the UK, this could mean a number of impacts, from financial costs (eg increase in insurance costs), loss of property, health issues, to more flooding, severe weather events causing destruction to property. Globally, there will be famine, drought, hardship, conflict and refugees. South Ayrshire Council, along with all Local authorities in Scotland made a commitment to the Scottish Climate Change Declaration which outlines their pledge to do something to reduce their impact on the climate, and adapt to the inevitable changes coming our way.

In the Scottish Climate Change Bill, the Scottish Government sets out ambitious targets to reduce Scotland's carbon emissions by 80%, by 2050.

What is South Ayrshire Council doing about climate change?

  • Through the Sustainability Partnership, South Ayrshire Council raises awareness of environmental issued, including climate change, and encourages Partnership partners to consider ways in which they can contribute towards mitigating and adapting to climate change.
  • Through its Carbon Management Programme the Council's Sustainable Development section is reviewing all processes and operations carried out in the by the Council. A Carbon Management Plan has been drawn up which lays out actions, timescales and targets for reducing carbon emissions that arise in the course of daily Council processes.
  • Through its Sustainable Travel Plan, officers within Sustainable Development in the Council are aiming to reduce carbon emissions that arise through: employees' commute to work; trips to business appointments; use of fleet vehicles, and all journeys made on behalf of Council business.
  • Through its Energy Management Team, Sustainable Development has number of initiatives are underway, and planned, to ensure that Council buildings' energy consumption is reduced.
  • Through development of a Climate Change Action Plan, the Council's Sustainable Development section aims to incorporate the Carbon Management Programme, Sustainable Travel Plan and procurement and energy efficiency, to create an all-encompassing, cross-departmental plan which will deliver actions designed to reduce the Council's fuel consumption (and therefore carbon emissions), in so doing contribute to climate change mitigation. The other arm of climate change is of course adaptation - measures put in place to counteract, protect and adapt services, buildings and the population of South Ayrshire from the predicted effects of climate change. A survey of South Ayrshire Council employees' knowledge of and attitude to climate change will help inform the development of the Climate Change Action Plan.

What can I do?

There are many actions that you personally can take to help reduce the impact of your lifestyle on climate change. It's all about taking responsibility and recognising that your actions can have a positive effect for change. Firstly, to help put it into perspective, take 5 minutes to measure your ecological footprint.

Then, look at the Scottish Government's go greener campaign website, which is full of tips on how to change your lifestyle by reducing waste, saving energy, reviewing your transport and travel habits, and being greener when you go shopping.

The important thing to remember is that tackling Climate Change is everyone's job, and it's up to every resident in Scotland take responsibility for the impact of their lifestyle on their environment.

Further Reading

Landmark Climate Change Reports

Climate Change - Scotland

Climate Change - UK

Climate Change - European Union

Climate Change - UN and International

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change fourth assessment report 2007:

Sustainable Development - Scotland

Sustainable Development Strategy - UK

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