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New Climate Intelligence Service will support councils to deliver local climate action

The Climate Intelligence Service is a new programme designed to support local authorities to deliver local climate action and benefits for their communities.

Delivery of the Climate Intelligence Service will be led by ECCI and the Improvement Service, the go-to organisation for local government improvement in Scotland. This uniquely placed partnership brings together expert knowledge and key practitioner insights and will support councils and their partners to unlock the broader benefits of climate action for health, equality and resilience.

Both the Edinburgh Climate Change Institute and the Improvement Service have an impressive track record of successfully supporting local authorities and have access to vast existing networks to engage stakeholders and progress actions.

Jointly funded by Scottish Government and local government, the Climate Intelligence Service will provide practical and tailored support to help councils build capacity and capability for the development of area-wide programmes of emissions reduction. The Climate Intelligence Service is designed to ensure local authorities have the data, confidence and capacity to support decision making in their local area which creates a more sustainable future for the community.

This support is vital to help allow councils to deliver their own area-wide net zero targets and to contribute to Scotland’s national commitment to net zero by 2045 and will empower councils and their partners to unlock the broader benefits of climate action for health, equality and resilience.

Mairi McAllan, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Net Zero and Just Transition said: “The Scottish Government is committed to tackling climate change and doing so in a way that’s fair and leaves no one behind. We can only do this by working effectively together – including by sharing data, insights and ways of working – at national and local levels. This initiative is a good example of that, with closer co-operation and pooling of resources between national and local government in order to support the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. I’m very pleased we have been able to fund this work.”

Professor Iain Gordon, Head of College of Science and Engineering at University of Edinburgh said: “The Scottish Climate Intelligence Service will use the knowledge and skills embedded in our university to support the whole of Scotland to deliver its climate change commitments. Working with Scottish Government and across all 32 local authorities presents a unique opportunity to accelerate action and capability at a national scale. The University of Edinburgh is committed to directing its skills, knowledge and resources toward the global imperative to tackle the causes and impacts of climate change, locally, nationally and globally.

“The Climate Intelligence Services shows how we are using our independent expertise and knowledge to build new partnerships and drive more effective approaches to tackling climate change, while realising the social and economic benefits of the transition to a zero carbon economy.”

Clare Wharmby, Programme Director of the Climate Intelligence Service explains: “Local authorities are struggling to get traction, or even information, on the delivery of area-wide climate action because these are very large and complex footprints. Small-scale delivery can get lost in the noise, delivery of action is not under direct control of local authorities, and carbon reduction can follow quite a long way behind project implementation. However, the 32 council’s area-wide footprints cover nearly all of Scotland’s Greenhouse Gas emissions and therefore delivery of local climate action is critical not only to keep Scotland on track to deliver its climate change targets but also to be able to reap the benefits of a green and just transition. “

Cllr Gail Macgregor, COSLA Environment and Economy Spokesperson said: “Tackling climate change requires partnership working of the highest order. No one organisation or sector can do it on their own. This is why I am so pleased to support the Climate Intelligence Service which marks a new level of cooperation between local and Scottish Government and the University of Edinburgh, through the Edinburgh Climate Change Institute. The intelligent use of data is essential to the task ahead of us so I look forward to the service growing in the weeks and months to come.”

Sarah Gadsden, Chief Executive of the Improvement Service said: “Climate change is the biggest challenge facing local authorities and needs collaborative work to develop a response. We are delighted to be working together with ECCI on this crucial project to not only accelerate climate action but also to demonstrate how local government and Scottish Government can come together and work with higher education institutions to drive change.”

The Climate Intelligence Service is a collaborative, action focused, and data driven programme which will have a wide-reaching impact on local authority climate strategies and actions across Scotland.

It will be co-designed with local authorities and other stakeholders and will build on existing activity by aligning with the work of the Sustainable Scotland Network.

Find out more about the programme’s progress and approach, as well as opportunities to be involved.