Risk and reward as we face climate change challenges

In recent months climate change has been in sharp focus. Internationally and nationally the action has been high profile and locally we have seen groups, including pupils of city schools, raising awareness on our doorstep at Marischal College.

I’m always keen to listen to the messages coming through from our communities and we acknowledge that climate change is one of our biggest challenges.

The Council takes climate responsibilities seriously, seeking to address the risks and grasp the opportunities presented to us, our partners, residents and the city as a whole.

Referring back to our guiding principle on purpose, we are all linked by our aim to care for the city and people – but the ethos of one team, one council, one city is just a relevant when in relation to climate change.

It is a global issue that can’t be tackled by organisation alone, it needs collaborative action. A range of Council teams and city partners are already working together to reduce emissions and increase resilience to severe weather. It’s important we all take time to understand our role in this, both professionally and personally.

Aberdeen’s Local Outcome Improvement Plan aims to help tackle climate change, with targets to reduce carbon emissions by 42.5% by 2026 and to adapt to a changing climate. Helping to support this, it’s great to see proposals for partnership work to increase community resilience, progressing through the Sustainable City Group.

The Council led Aberdeen Adapts partnership project brings 41 organisations together to build understanding, look at the bigger picture and explore ways to work together to protect what matters in the city.

Severe weather events can have a huge impact on Aberdeen’s people and places. The development of Aberdeen Adapts has united community groups and organisations, aiming to bridge the gap between different sectors to improve city resilience to more frequent and intense weather extremes.

An important step forward is the launch of a consultation, open until 29 July, on the draft Aberdeen Adapts Climate Adaptation Framework, giving people an opportunity to give their views on the city approach to climate adaptation.

I’m encouraged to learn the development of Aberdeen Adapts involved young people, through Climate Ready Place workshops in three city schools. Giving young people the chance to find out about climate change in a local context and express their views on this important issue.

It is heartening to see the development of Aberdeen Adapts, as well as work to identify climate risks and adjust to climate impacts, recognised in an Aberdeen City Council case study featured in the new Scottish public sector guidance on climate adaptation, launched in May.

My thanks go to officers across council clusters who are currently contributing information for our Climate Change Report. This yearly report shows our progress with meeting climate change duties to reduce emissions, adapt and promote sustainability. It also highlights the many teams involved in helping to monitor, inform, shape and deliver our climate change actions.

We also welcome links with the University of Aberdeen this summer, through a student project looking at the effects of extreme weather on the Council. This work will bring opportunities for officers to learn more and get involved. Understanding the effects of extreme weather can help inform our early planning and interventions.

From small individual actions to major projects we can all play a role in helping to meet council commitments to climate change and to ensure we’re staying true to our purpose, protecting the people and place.