Climate change in East Renfrewshire to be investigated

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The response to climate change in East Renfrewshire will be investigated to ensure the authority is adequately addressing the “challenging but pressing” issue.

A scrutiny committee is set to evaluate how the council can best react to the “high priority issue” of climate change.

The findings, which will be released in a draft report in March, will support the council’s refreshed environmental strategy and action plan.

It has been planned to complement work already underway on climate change, focusing on whether targets and budgets are adequate and the extent to which the council is taking preventative measures.

The investigation will also look at whether carbon neutrality is sufficiently covered during discussions on new projects.

It could decide a specific board or body should be set up to oversee the response to climate change.

“Addressing climate change is a challenging but pressing issue which councils, organisations, businesses and indeed families are engaging with to a greater or lesser extent,” a report by chief executive Lorraine McMillan states.

“Many local authorities in addition to establishing climate change policies and action plans, have gone a stage further and declared a climate emergency and set a target, commonly by 2030, to become carbon neutral.

“It is timely therefore, given the refresh of the East Renfrewshire Council’s Environmental Sustainability Strategy and Action Plan, that the Audit and Scrutiny Committee contributes to this work by taking evidence and supplying information which is for the wider benefit of the Council.

“Information from this investigation will hopefully assist the Council in future deliberations and decision-making in relation to climate change and carbon neutrality.”

East Renfrewshire’s environment department is working with Glasgow City Region partners to prepare for climate change and its impacts, exchanging information, experience and good practice.

A list of carbon emissions produced by the council and counter-measures could be put together. A report to councillors lists activities which can reduce carbon emissions, including planting more trees and creating new ‘green’ space.

It also lists a policy to reduce plastics use, car sharing policies for employees, potential conversion of street lighting to low energy LED lighting, lower speed limits and encouraging active travel.

The reports says environmental issues could be at the forefront of procurement activities and the design standards of buildings could be improved to enable greater energy efficiency.