21 March 2023

Aberdeenshire Council sets its decarbonisation target for 2023/24

Aberdeenshire Council’s carbon reduction targets for the year are on route towards clearing 75% of its annual emissions by the end of the decade. 

A maximum of 44,152 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent has been budgeted for 2023/24—measured against a baseline of 86,155 tonnes emitted by the council back in 2010/11.

Aberdeenshire Council was the first authority in Scotland to develop and approve a carbon budget back in 2017 and has successfully reduced emissions each year in line with the ambitious targets set into law by the Scottish Government.

To develop this carbon budget, the focus has been on further opportunities to reduce emissions from operational buildings, fleet, and street lighting, as well as looking at additional energy efficiency and resource interventions.

LED street lighting continues to be rolled out across the region with significant cost and emission savings. Other proposed carbon savings include, but are not limited to, off-grid bus shelters, energy from waste, and a move to warm-mix road resurfacing.

In addition, the council continues to progress studies on its operational buildings to check the feasibility of air-source heat pumps, additional solar panels, wind generation, solar farms, and battery storage for excess energy.

The expansion of electric vehicle infrastructure is also progressing across the region, which will help the authority add additional low emission vehicles to its fleet.

Released in September 2022, the Route Map to 2030 and Beyond encompassed all these measures and sets out how the council plans to decarbonise 75% of its emissions before achieving net zero by 2045.

There are many projects happening across the council that will also support regional emission reduction over and above the council’s own emissions, such as the Housing Service’s work on energy efficiency, solar generation, battery storage, and heat decarbonisation. The council is also working to establish a Local Heat & Energy Efficiency Strategy that will systematically improve the energy efficiency of buildings.

Similarly, Education & Children’s Services has developed a Sustainability & Climate Change Strategy that highlights emission reduction outcomes related to behavioural change.

The financial implications in reaching a 75% reduction are significant and will require external funding to achieve, which the council continues to investigate.

Aberdeenshire Council has also developed a carbon toolkit that demonstrates the costs and savings made through its carbon reduction initiatives to help prioritise and reduce emissions in the most cost-effective manner.

The carbon budget is set each year to keep the council on track towards its decarbonisation targets. It is measured in tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e), which shows the impact of various greenhouse gases in terms of how much carbon dioxide would create the same level of global warming. 

To meet its 75% target, the council must decarbonise down to emitting only 21,539 tCO2e per year by 2030/31.

Sustainability Committee Chair Sarah Dickinson said: “Climate change is one of the greatest global threats we face. Nationally, it is recognised that climate change will have impacts on the economy, people, and the environment.

“By setting an annual carbon budget and supporting our Route Map to 2030 & Beyond, Aberdeenshire Council continues to demonstrate how it is playing its part in trying to tackle the global climate change challenge, while also supporting ambitious national targets.” 

Sustainability Vice Chair Jim Gifford said: “This is, without a doubt, the biggest over-arching challenge that the council will face over the coming years. Given the scale of what is in front of us, we cannot do this alone. 

“We need dedicated and flexible funding to deliver the long-term projects required to do what is best for this council area. We clearly don’t have the money, and we should collectively use every opportunity to lobby for the resources we need to deliver these ambitious targets.”