Zero Waste Scotland urges “beyond net zero” approach to tackle climate crisis

Written by: Maddie Ballard | Published:
The Scottish government has set a net zero target for Scotland of 2045

Scotland needs to go “beyond net zero” to combat the climate crisis, Zero Waste Scotland urged this week.

The Scottish government has committed to a net zero target for Scotland of 2045.

But Zero Waste Scotland said the target only deals with half of the country’s total carbon footprint, because it focuses almost exclusively on emissions generated within Scotland’s borders.

The target ignores the other 50% of emissions generated overseas to meet Scotland’s demand for products and materials, the circular economy organisation says.

At a conference on sustainability in the public sector at the Royal Bank of Scotland’s Edinburgh headquarters on Tuesday (4 February), Ian Gulland, chief executive of Zero Waste Scotland, said: “The Scottish government’s commitment to ending Scotland’s contribution to the [climate] crisis is a strong, welcome, and necessary goal.

“Targeting net zero is a fantastic start to help us get there, and Scotland’s net zero target is better than most because unlike other countries, it includes international transport emissions from flights and shipping. But net zero cannot be the end point.

“To play our full part in tackling climate change we now need to focus on the other half [of emissions] too – all the emissions created overseas from the imports which feed our huge consumption habit.

“We need to switch to a circular economy which places value on the wellbeing of people and planet alike by eliminating waste and the harmful emissions it creates.

“A circular economy keeps our limited resources in a ‘loop’ of use, maximising value and minimising waste and emissions by reducing, reusing, repairing, remaking, and finally recycling everything we use.

“This will significantly cut our unsustainable demand for new materials and products, including carbon-intensive imports.”

He noted that opportunities to scale up the circular economy were rife.

Zero Waste Scotland already works with several ‘circular’ firms in Scotland, such as Glasgow-based EGG Lighting, which leases light fixtures as a service rather than a product to buy, and East Kilbride firm Re-Tek, which leases refurbished computer equipment.

Gulland urged the public sector to go circular too, adding: “Scotland’s public sector spends around £11b each year on goods and services – or about 10% of our nation’s entire GDP.

“That gives public sector organisations vast influence on how the whole nation does business.

“You are uniquely placed to decide and transform the way Scotland demands and uses products and services.”

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