North-east councillors have agreed an innovative carbon budget as they race to meet pollution targets.
Yesterday the Press and Journal revealed that Aberdeenshire Council is significantly behind its target to cut emissions by 44% by 2020 – at its current rate of reduction it will take at least another 30 years.
Now councillors have unanimously backed the creation of a carbon budget to combat “the biggest threat” facing the planet – climate change.
During the debate at the local authority’s headquarters yesterday, Green councillor Martin Ford said the deal represented a “very big and very important step for the council”.
“We and others have not achieved the reduction in emissions needed to meet these targets – that is a hard fact.”
Mr Ford said drafting a carbon budget alongside the council’s housing, revenue and capital budgets demonstrated the authority is now taking the issue of climate change seriously.
He added: “Carbon is a currency and we can afford to make a saving.”
Following yesterday’s deal, each council department will be asked to draw up carbon-saving measures for the budget which will take effect next year.
Senior council officers have stressed that some of the necessary projects will come at “significant” expense but would pay for themselves in the long term.
Infrastructure boss Stephen Archer said: “It would be appropriate to reference the world of finance. Clearly looking to the future this is about a balanced approached.
“There may be some cost but it’s about doing things differently and to be seen to be doing our part.”
Opposition councillor Jill Webster, a former member of the sustainability committee which will implement this budget, said: “I don’t underestimate the scale of the challenge.
“If we poured as much money as we wanted into this we could make a huge dent, but we have to balance our budgets.”
The decision to implement a carbon budget was central to the supply and confidence arrangement agreed by Mr Ford’s Democratic Independent and Green Group (Digg) with the SNP-led Partnership, which seized control of the administration last year.