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SSN Steering Group meeting to consider Green Recovery

On 23 June, the SSN Steering Group met to consider the Green Recovery and what it means for SSN members. The group was joined by representatives from the Scottish Government, CERG, CEAG and ECCI who helped frame the morning’s discussions. John Wincott, SSN Vice-Chair shares an update on the meeting below.

SSN Vice-Chair, John Wincott shares an update

First, I would just like to say that I hope you have been safe during these difficult times with the COVID-19 pandemic; I know that many people have found the time challenging for a whole host of reasons.

The SSN Steering Group have been meeting virtually during the COVID-19 lockdown to continue the progress being made in sustainability. There has been much discussion in the media about using the enforced pause caused by the lockdown to drive forward with a more sustainable, lower emission, green recovery. The SSN Steering Group met most recently on 23rd June to consider what a green recovery means for our members - the Public Bodies bound by the Climate Change (Scotland) Act.

SSN members have been at the forefront of the COVID-19 battle: local authorities have been challenged to deliver rapidly changing services with decreased resources and increased expenses; colleges and universities have been through an amazing transformation in very little time, and now face uncertainty over future course delivery models; other bodies, e.g. SEPA, SNH, Scottish Water, have all faced tremendous challenges in providing their various functions; and of course the NHS has been - and will continue to be - totally absorbed in the battle with this virus.

CCC six principles for a resilient recovery

While recognising the challenges that COVID-19 presents, climate change has not gone away, and our members will still have to act to mitigate and adapt to the effects. The Committee on Climate Change has written to the Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary describing the six principles required for a resilient recovery. These principles are:

1. Use climate investments to support the economic recovery and jobs.

2. Lead a shift towards positive long-term behaviours.

3. Tackle the wider ‘resilience deficit’ on climate change.

4. Embed fairness as a core principle.

5. Ensure the recovery does not ‘lock-in’ greenhouse gas emissions or increased climate risk.

6. Strengthen incentives to reduce emissions when considering fiscal changes.

Green Recovery developments in 2020

Prior to the meeting, the SSN Steering Group surveyed members for views on these principles, the results showing strong support. At the meeting, the Steering Group also heard from the Scottish Government about how these principles were feeding into policy discussions, and how priorities are pivoting towards the green recovery agenda. More will be forthcoming in the autumn, especially around the Programme for Government announcements, and then later in 2020 with the revision of the Climate Change Plan. The SSN Steering Group will return to its discussions again soon, when it meets again on 5th August.

Funding & Reporting

One key issue that was a focus of discussion was the need to improve clarity on funding and investment streams, so that SSN members can be ahead of the curve when it comes to informing local green recovery planning. SSN and the Scottish Government are hoping to provide more on this soon. The Steering Group also discussed the need for clarity and communication on this year’s climate change reporting. A Scottish Government email address (climatechangepbreporting@gov.scot) has been set up for all reporting enquiries, with more on reporting expected soon.

Needs of our members

Finally, SSN is looking at the most urgent needs of our members, and how best to address those as soon as possible. In addition to those areas described above, some examples of other matters under consideration are:

- Different funding streams available

- Best practice sharing

- Advice on business cases to align with green recovery

- Looking at doughnut economics – system thinking

- Use technology for driving action

The Steering Group would be delighted to hear from the broader membership on where your priorities lie, how SSN can best address those, and if there are any other areas that need to be addressed.

If you want to contact us please email - SSNsteeringgroup@ed.ac.uk

John Wincott, Vice Chair, SSN Steering Group

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