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Supporting public sector action through three key programmes

27 October 2020

In conjunction with the SSN strategy launch in September, SSN has set out three key programmes to support the public sector action in Scotland. Our programmes are based on three inter-related spheres of influence and activity; place based action; action on indirect emissions; action to achieve net zero organisations.

In each sphere, the control of public sector bodies reduces as the scale of their potential impact increases. And, as public bodies shift to becoming net zero organisations, they become more and more dependent on the transformation of places and societal systems towards net zero.

Three SSN programmes:

1. Net Zero Places

Place-based action has tremendous scope to influence and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, whether within a local community, town, city, rural or regional setting. How we plan, use, and manage land for a variety of purposes and goods, including transport, travel/mobility, built environment, greenspace, leisure, recreation etc, will determine Scotland’s success in achieving net zero emissions.

Scotland’s public sector has a dominant role to play in crafting places that support and encourage net-zero systems, communities, and places. This programme aims to speed up learning, develop consistent approaches, and secure investment in the tools required to support public sector action on Net Zero Places.

2. Net Zero Indirect Emissions

Public sector organisations can act to influence emissions reduction in their supply chains and other activities that sit outside their direct control. While public bodies are now monitoring and reporting their Scope 1 and 2 emissions well, improving measurement and action on indirect emissions is critical to meeting Scotland’s Net Zero targets. The Scottish Government recommends that each public sector organisation sets targets on influencing their indirect emissions.

This programme will support member action to minimise embodied emissions, and reduce travel, water and waste impacts, developing guidance and training to support Net Zero Indirect Emissions.

3. Net Zero Public Sector Organisations

Standalone targets will not achieve net-zero direct emissions for the public sector by 2045. Although some organisations have demonstrated strong ambition by setting tighter timescales, targets must be underwritten by a clear pathway and milestones that demonstrate transparency, agility to respond to new innovations and unexpected change, and recognition of measures needed to address residual emissions at the most effective scale and pace e.g. process emissions and medical gases.

Additionally, agreed methodologies for assessing, accounting and managing emission sinks as part of public sector assets are required. And a consistent public sector approach to carbon off-setting also needs to be developed and agreed.

Scaling up impact

In each programme SSN’s objective is to scale up impact through the development of:

Project Director, George Tarvit said: "To transform Scotland to net zero emissions by 2045, public bodies need to address climate action through all of their functions. Carbon impacts and opportunities exist within public bodies directly, but also through their work to procure goods and services and to create sustainable and prosperous places. The SSN's three work programmes reflect the broad influence that public bodies need to have on cutting emissions, and reflects the priorities articulated by SSN members and the SSN Steering Group. We are now developing plans and working with members and partners to develop and implement actions for Net Zero Organisations, Net Zero Indirect Emissions and Net Zero Places."

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