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Route map to a low carbon Scotland and a better quality of life

Posted on 28 March 2007

A new report from the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) at the University of York sets out how Scotland could move to a low-carbon, safer and more equitable society, providing a high quality of life for its citizens

The report, Towards a Low Footprint Scotland, launched this week, calculates that if everyone in the world consumed natural resources and generated carbon dioxide at the same rate as in Scotland, we would need three planets to support us. It concludes that Scotland’s "ecological footprint" needs to be cut by 75% by 2050 in order to live within its fair share of the planet's resources.

The report suggests that the reduction can be achieved through more efficient products and better, less wasteful, consumption. It says that moving to a lower footprint economy will place Scotland at the leading edge of global environmental initiatives, as well as reaping benefits through jobs, health, and a more just society.

A low carbon lifestyle is compatible with high of quality of life

Dr John Barrett

Elizabeth Leighton, Senior Policy Officer with WWF Scotland - one of the organisations which commissioned the report - said "Technology alone can’t fix our ecological overdraft. The clear message from this report is that unsustainable behaviour is embedded in the fabric of our lives. Although individuals, business and government all have a role to play, we can’t be expected to swim against the tide. Government must take the lead in creating the right conditions for change."

To achieve the necessary 75% reduction in Footprint, the report contains far-reaching recommendations for the Scottish Executive, covering leadership, regulation, incentives and changes in spending policies.

Policy recommendations include raising the energy efficiency of all homes; establishing a resource-efficient procurement policy; new standards for sustainable healthy food in public services and linking transport, and planning strategies to reduce the need to travel, stabilising CO2 emissions from transport by 2015.

George Tarvit, Chair of Scotland's Global Footprint Project said: "This report is a valuable contribution to the debate about how Scotland can reduce its global footprint - a Scottish Executive commitment. It leaves little doubt about the need to take action now, and the many challenges and opportunities ahead for change."

The report concludes that Scotland could be the first country in the world to seriously transform policy, government communications and financial incentives so that they reward sustainable living.

Report author, Dr John Barrett, of SEI at the University of York, said: "A low carbon lifestyle is compatible with high of quality of life.

"In a ‘one planet’ Scotland, we would live in warm comfortable homes that are highly energy efficient with a high proportion of the energy coming from renewable sources. These homes would be located close to our work, shopping, schools and leisure facilities, reducing the need to travel. Our diets would be healthy and balanced, taking advantage of local and organic produce. Most importantly we would have more time for our friends, family and community."

Notes to editors:

  • Stockholm Environment Institute at the University of York is an independent, international research institute specialising in sustainable development and environment issues. It works at local, national, regional and global policy levels.
  • The report, commissioned by Scotland’s Global Footprint project steering group, can be found at - Scotland’s Global Footprint project is working with Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire and North Lanarkshire Councils to reduce their local and global environmental impact.
  • The Ecological Footprint measures the resources we use to support our lifestyles. It is the best available measure for telling us whether or not we are living within the limits of the planet. An International standard was adopted in 2006 and in the UK devolved administrations and many local authorities have adopted it as a measure towards sustainable development.
  • Our Ecological Footprint is largely made up of transport 20%, housing 30% and food 25%.Extensive case studies from individuals and communities are contained in the report highlighting the many barriers to more sustainable living.

Contact details

David Garner
Senior Press Officer

Tel: +44 (0)1904 322153