Unique City Compact launched to catalyse action on climate change

Sun, 12/20/2020 - 10:14

Six leading Edinburgh businesses and employers have signed a pledge aimed at sparking radical action on climate change across the city.

Launched by the Edinburgh Climate Commission, the Edinburgh Climate Compact outlines a list of commitments which organisations taking part will need to adopt, to contribute to a green recovery and help Edinburgh reach its target of net zero emissions by 2030.

The six founding signatories comprise representatives from the private and public sector with Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, NatWest Group, NHS Lothian, Robertson Group, The City of Edinburgh Council and The University of Edinburgh all confirming their commitment to be leaders in the race to net zero.

It is the first time in Scotland that employers spanning the health, finance, investment, construction, education, arts and culture and the public sector have come together to agree a significant reduction in their greenhouse gas emissions through their operations, influence and leadership, transport and buildings, to address climate change. 

Edinburgh Climate Commission Chair, Dr Sam Gardner, said: 

“As Scotland enters the twelve-month countdown to hosting COP26, Edinburgh has a unique opportunity to show the world the power of collaboration and the difference we as a city can make to address the climate emergency.

“Edinburgh’s key businesses and employers can, and must, show leadership in delivering real progress on the net-zero future of the city.”

As part of their role in leading on climate action in the Edinburgh, the signatories have agreed to 16 actions which will lead to clear change in their business practices in order to significantly reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

These include:

  • Publicising what action is currently taken by each signatory to address climate change including the disclosure of current emission levels and publishing plans for how they plan to reduce their carbon emissions; 
  • Committing to retrofitting owned buildings and decarbonising operations to become more energy efficient and sustainable;
  • Prioritising active and sustainable travel in their workforce and investing in a switch to zero-emissions company owned vehicles;
  • Providing training for staff to develop their awareness and understanding of climate change and changes in their behaviour which could lead to a reduction in emissions.

Commissioner Clare Foster, who led the Climate Compact workstream for the Commission, added: 

“This Compact is for organisations who are committed to being leaders in the race to net-zero. It represents a significant step forward on the path to a new normal of sustainable business practice in a thriving green city.

“This level of collaboration between different sectors and organisations of this size has never been attempted before in Scotland when reducing emissions. 

“The determination of the signatories to make a collective difference by committing to radically cutting their emissions is amazing and we hope it will set a benchmark that will encourage other businesses to join and other Cities to replicate.”

A full list of the signatories include:

  1. Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society
  2. NatWest Group
  3. NHS Lothian
  4. Robertson Group
  5. The City of Edinburgh Council 
  6. The University of Edinburgh

The City of Edinburgh Council Leader, Councillor Adam McVey said: 

"Edinburgh’s net zero by 2030 target recognises the climate emergency we are facing and the need for all employers in the city to take urgent action to tackle climate change in order to secure a more sustainable future for the people who live and work here.
As Scotland’s capital and economic centre, we want to lead the way in demonstrating what cities and local authorities across Scotland can do when it comes to addressing key issues like climate change and poverty.
“Being part of the Edinburgh Climate Compact will help us to work closely with and learn from others organisations in the city, about the best ways that we can change as an employer in order to reduce our emissions and ensure that sustainable and climate friendly working practices are at the core of the Council’s work.”

Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society Chief Executive, Shona McCarthy, said: 

“Arts and culture can be so powerful in telling the story of our climate emergency and informing and influencing how we make change in an effective and significant way. We’re here to take ownership of our actions and to help lead Edinburgh to a more sustainable future.

“We are hugely passionate about supporting carbon reduction and managing the environmental impact of the Fringe. We’re keen to work in partnership with all those that make the Fringe happen 
to bring about substantial change.

“It’s important that we do everything we can to work towards Edinburgh, Scotland and the UK’s net-zero future, and we’re proud to be making this commitment alongside these organisations.”

Robertson Chief Executive Officer, Elliot Robertson, said: 

The built environment is one of the largest industries which contributes towards climate change.  As a responsible business, Robertson has been championing for changes in the sector for a number of years and has already declared a climate and biodiversity emergency along with other Tier One contractors.
“Our own efforts have seen us verified by One Carbon World as one of the first UK businesses in the built environment to achieve carbon neutrality. 
“Our commitment to combat climate change extends to how we work with our supply chain and our customers, the greatest way to make change is collectively, which is why we are proud to represent the built environment as one of the founding partners of Edinburgh Climate Compact.
“Our 2030 Responsible Business Strategy sets out our ambitious targets for the next decade and we look forward to working with the other key sectors to share knowledge and lessons learned, so that together we can make a difference and deliver a net-zero future for Edinburgh and beyond.”  

Royal Bank of Scotland (part of the NatWest Group) Executive Sponsor Climate Change, MD Retail Banking, Simon Watson said:

“Climate change is the most significant challenge facing our society and, as the biggest backer of UK businesses, we have an important role to play in helping our customers transition to a low carbon economy. 
“We are determined to lead on the collaboration and cooperation that is so critical to influencing the transition and that is why we are proud to be working with and learning from other employers in Edinburgh on this important agenda.”

University of Edinburgh Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Peter Mathieson, said:

“As a University with a deep-rooted sense of internationalism, we are deeply concerned by the climate crisis and are committed to making a positive difference both globally and locally. 
“Using our excellence in research and teaching, and by adapting how we operate as an institution, we are playing our part in helping combat the effects of climate change and finding innovative solutions to tackle the challenges it poses. 
“By working with our civic partners and taking our own practical steps to make more sustainable choices, I believe we can encourage others to do likewise.”