RSE Inquiry Report Facing up to Climate Change: breaking the barriers to a low-carbon Scotland launched

“Scotland, with its rich renewable resources, world class research base, experience in the oil and gas industry and leading financial institutions, has much to gain from the move to a low-carbon society. We’re on the verge of a new form of industrial revolution and Scotland could benefit from novel economic opportunities, increased energy security and better use of resources to build stronger, more sustainable communities” comments Professor David Sugden, Chair of the RSE’s Inquiry.
Facing up to Climate Change: breaking the barriers to a low-carbon Scotland identifies the obstacles that are stopping us from taking steps towards a low-carbon society. It recognises that there is a wealth of activity at EU, UK and Scottish level, including in local authorities, communities, households and civil society, but that there is an acute need for coherence and integration between these levels.
The Inquiry Report, launched on 1 March 2011, sets out 10 Primary Recommendations aimed at helping policy makers to design policy in such a way that it overcomes the barriers. It calls for government and organisations to embed low-carbon policies across all functions and for closer engagement between people, civil society, market and state.
This Report is the result of an extensive consultation process across Scotland during which evidence was taken from over 110 public, private and third sector organisations, as well as from around 40 individuals, a number of public meetings around Scotland, involving some 400 people, and a national Schools’ Competition. It has been formulated by a Committee chaired by Professor Sugden, an internationally renowned climate scientist based at Edinburgh University, with members whose expertise covers the natural and social sciences, business, policy and education.
The Report considers the issues of climate change, sustainability and opportunities for creating a more sustainable, fairer world. It looks at the science of climate change and its implications at both a global and Scottish scale and outlines the economic, social and environmental contexts that will shape Scotland’s move to a low-carbon future. The Report then focuses on the findings of the Inquiry and the implications for Scotland, looking first to public bodies (local authorities, education, water), then to key economic sectors (finance, energy, other industry, heating, transport and land use).
Finally the Report looks at the pervasive challenges arising from multi-level governance and how they may be addressed. It is this analysis that forms the basis of our ten Primary Recommendations, and sets out also 30 Supplementary Recommendations aimed at policy makers in the specific  sectors outlined above.
The Summary Report can be downloaded here (2.16Mb)

The Full Report (low res) can be downloaded here (6.40Mb)

Ten Primary Recommendations of the Report
1. The UK Government should urgently improve the infrastructure and management of the electricity grid in Scotland to optimise the development of renewable energy and to permit the export of surplus renewable energy.
2. The Scottish and UK Governments need to retrofit existing regulation to achieve a balance with the need to reduce carbon emissions.
3. The Scottish Government should work with local authorities and businesses to align and sharpen regulation in order to achieve a step change in energy efficiency in buildings and transport.
4. The Scottish Government and local authorities should jointly introduce truly integrated polices in order to achieve effective reductions in emissions at a regional level.
5. The Scottish Government should develop a spatially-referenced national land use plan integrated with regional strategic plans in order to optimise carbon sequestration
6. The finance industry should take a lead and work with government to create the business environment that will mobilise private finance in support of a low-carbon society.
7. All organisations should appraise their goals and practices in the light of the urgency to achieve a low-carbon society.
8. Local authorities should integrate and embed their low-carbon policies across all their various functions.
9. The Scottish Government and local authorities should actively assist local communities to introduce low-carbon initiatives.
10. Closer engagement is needed between people, civil society, market and state in the pursuit of Scotland’s low-carbon vision.
The remit of the inquiry was to:
1.To engage in deliberative dialogue with individuals, industries and public authorities to help develop and respond to proposed Government climate change policies;
2.To identify barriers to change and to recommend measures for current and future policies in these areas and the timescales on which action might need to be developed.
Chairman: Professor David Sugden FRSE.
Emeritus Professor of geography, School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh
Professor Alan Werritty FRSE (Deputy Chair).
Emeritus Professor of Physical Geography, School of the Environment, and UNESCO Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science, University of Dundee
Mrs Erica Caldwell FRSGS.
Hon. President of the Scottish Association of Geography Teachers; Senior Examiner, SQA; Former Faculty Head, Carnoustie High School
Professor Colin Campbell.
Science Leader, Soils Group, The Macaulay Institute, Visiting Professor Department of Soil and Environment, Swedish Agricultural Sciences University (SLU).
Dr Andrew Dlugolecki.
Former Director of General Insurance Development at Aviva; Member of the UK Adaptation Sub-Committee on Climate Change
Professor Nick Hanley.
Professor of Environmental Economics, University of Stirling
Dr Andrew Kerr.
Director of the Edinburgh Centre on Climate Change
Professor Janette Webb.
Professor of Sociology of Organisations, Institute of Governance,School in Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh
Inquiry Questions
The Committee invited written responses from Government bodies, companies and individuals on what they are doing in response to climate change and what barriers to change they are facing. The specific questions can be downloaded here.


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