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Dundee: part of Scotland's mission to cut emissions

Karolina Eklöw Mon, 14 November 2022

After hosting COP26, the Government of Scotland has maintained a distinct voice in the global climate action landscape. By 2045 the nation is set to reach net zero emissions.

And cities are the implementing parties. Out of the twenty-eight local councils that have publicly declared a climate emergency, Dundee City is the first to publish a transparent Climate Action Plan online

Transition Plan Dundee

Dundee aims for net zero by the national target year 2045 – or sooner. The city declared a climate emergency in June 2019. While knowing what the goals were, they didn't know how to reach them.


“We wanted an evidence-based approach, so we’re not just plucking things out of thin air"

Naomi Clarke, Senior Sustainability and Climate Change Officer, Dundee City Council


As reported by media, they found the data on emissions and pollution hard to navigate. And in the words of Naomi Clarke, Senior Sustainability and Climate Change Officer, Dundee City Council: "We looked at various types of consultancies and software, but there were issues around affordability, and some were overly complicated compared to what we really needed, which was something very visual.” The planning went ahead while searching for a holistic solution. 

At last, Dundee and ClimateView found each other. And since then, the preparations and stakeholders engagements have been in full swing. The local authority and the Swedish startup worked closely to localise and co-develop an interactive dashboard with visual scenarios.


Dundee in numbers

The Dundee Climate Action Plan is integrated into ClimateOS and available for all citizens and stakeholders to take part in. The Dundonians – alongside the rest of the world – now have a full overview of emissions and actions to reach net zero emissions by 2045 or sooner. The plan sets out four themes that guide policy: Energy, Transport, Waste and Resilience, and gets everyone on the same page through facts and figures: 

  • The number of kilotons of carbon. The plan showed the city emitted 840 kilotons (kt) of carbon in 2020. The 2045 goal is to emit less than half of that – 375 kt.

  • The emissions division. A total of 30% of the 2020 emissions in the city come from buildings – 14% from homes and 16% from businesses. 
  • As a response, actions include: reducing the consumption of energy, promoting energy efficiency and increasing the proportion of power and heat from low and zero-carbon technologies. 

  • The sectors responsible. Transport makes up 28% of the 2020 total while the energy system is responsible for 15% of Dundee’s carbon emissions. Industry makes up less than 1% of the total and waste around 2%, the tool shows. 
  • As a response, actions include: Encouraging active travel through walking, cycling and public transport and deploying sustainable alternatives to decarbonise transport – and managing waste sustainably to improve resource efficiency whilst working towards a circular economy.

  • The remaining emissions. Undefined ‘unaddressed emissions’ make up roughly the last quarter. The unaddressed emissions are those that require new actions and interventions to tackle them. They represent a current gap in the emissions reduction plans.

  • As a response, officials can now work to begin to address this gap as they interact with stakeholders across the city to tackle the remaining emissions. 

As reported by the Courier, each theme includes an initial set of actions to reduce emissions. In total, 64 actions have been identified in the plan. Moreover, the city is ensuring communities, green networks and infrastructure are adaptable to a changing climate and reduce the risks and vulnerability to unavoidable impacts. 

Let's get down to business

Dundee is serious in its stakeholder engagement. The city has had a long tradition of partnership working on environmental, social issues and community planning issues and co-designed the plan in ClimateOS with public, private and community organisations across the city. 

  • Council-wide climate literacy trainings. Every senior manager within Dundee City Council is currently undergoing training in climate literacy. The long-term goal is for each department to have its own climate action plan subset.

  • City-wide partnerships. The city has a Climate Leadership Group – a mix of academics, business, community leaders, creatives and healthcare providers – coordinating the response to climate change. The city also established the ‘Sustainable Dundee Partnership’, which has taken on new significance following COP26.

  • World-wide networks. Apart from joining the ClimateOS community of cities, Dundee is part of the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy since 2018. A part of this commitment is to adopt a joint approach to tackling climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Dundee is standing on solid partnerships as it reduces emissions in tandem. And while partnerships have proven to be a secret sauce to success, the Dundee City Council Leader, John Alexander, analyses the risks and opportunities. There are financial investments needed to reach zero emissions by 2045. 

“We realise that significant investment is required and we need to raise this nationally to ensure the city can take more decisive action."

John Alexander, Dundee City Council Leader

With a full overview of the city's emissions, the chances of keeping the promise of zero emissions by 2045 is higher. The plan – that is updated as new data comes in – enables the city to monitor and refine its strategy until reaching the goal. It will also help to keep investments under control. 

As reported in  the Courier, Naomi Clarke expresses how cities must understand emissions from thousands of sources in different sectors and how those activities interact and influence each other – something Clarke says ClimateOS has been "instrumental in delivering". 




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