MSPs to examine the role of local government and its partners in delivering a net-zero Scotland


Hot on the heels of COP26, the Scottish Parliament’s Net Zero, Energy & Transport Committee today launches an inquiry that will explore the role of local government and its partners – private and voluntary sectors, social enterprises, and local communities – in both financing and delivering a net-zero Scotland.

MSPs will consider what councils and partners are doing practically to help reach the targets, what skillsets are being used, and what barriers are in their way. They will also probe how councils leverage in capacity and finance from the private sector and look for examples of effective partnership working that is delivering net zero.

The inquiry will focus particularly on the ambitious target of 75% overall reduction in carbon emissions to be met by 2030 (against baselines set in 1990 and 1995).

Speaking as the inquiry was launched, Committee Convener, Dean Lockhart MSP, said;

“COP 26 has underlined that government at every level has a role to play in addressing climate change. In Scotland, local government powers span everything from encouraging active travel, to deciding what sort of homes get built in communities, to promoting recycling and a circular economy.

“To get results, local government must partner effectively with business, the voluntary sector and local communities themselves. This is why we want this to be a hands-on inquiry, focusing on the strengths of those relationships and practical steps being taken.

“We need to understand how council budgets are being used to drive action on net zero and how well they are leveraging in skills and private finance. And we need to understand what role the Scottish Government can play to support and – where necessary – to challenge local government to play a full role in the flight against climate change. ”

The Committee has launched a survey looking for views which closes on Friday 21 January 2022.

You can submit views here:


The Committee will report to Parliament with the conclusions of its inquiry in Spring 2022.

Areas which are likely to be included within this inquiry include, for example;

Council planning, decision-making and capacity in relation to net zero
1. How effective are councils at strategic planning, budgeting, and making procurement decisions that align with net zero goals? If there are barriers, what are they?
2. What role can the local government planning system and local development plans do to help us reach net zero? Could the planning system do more?
3. What innovation, skills and capacity are needed in the local government workforce when it comes to making net zero achievable? Does that capacity exist or are there gaps?

Partnering to achieve net zero goals
4. How well do councils leverage in support and finance from the private sector for net zero delivery? Are City Region Deals being used effectively for this? What mechanisms or forums are there for sharing opportunities and good practice?
5. How well do councils partner with the voluntary sector and social enterprises to work towards net zero goals? Are there instances of good practice you can point to or areas where opportunities are being missed?
6. How well do councils involve local communities in decision-making on major net zero projects and how do they support community-led initiatives?

Role of the Scottish Government and its agencies
7. What is the Scottish Government doing to help the local government sector deliver on net zero goals? What, if anything, could it do more of to help the sector?
8. What is the role of enterprise agencies or other public bodies as enablers of joint working on net zero goals by local government and its cross-sectoral partners?

Local government work on net zero in particular areas
9. How are councils working with cross-sectoral partners to decarbonise heat in buildings and to ensure they have greater energy efficiency? 
10. How are councils working with cross-sectoral partners to decarbonise transport (including encouraging active travel) and to improve air quality?
11. How are councils working with cross-sectoral partners to promote recycling and a “circular economy”?
12. How are councils working with cross-sectoral partners to use the natural environment (its “green infrastructure”) to achieve net zero targets?



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