Effort to reduce emissions isn’t a drop in the ocean

It’s the precious natural resource without which our daily lives couldn’t function. Delivering Scotland’s water to five million people, and treating the nation’s wastewater, is a vital responsibility which supports a flourishing country.

For more than a decade Scottish Water has been working to reduce carbon emissions associated with these core services – the organisation is one of the biggest users of energy in the country.

But following the declaration of a climate emergency by the Scottish Government in 2018, Scottish Water responded by committing to become net zero by 2040 – five years ahead of national targets – and then go beyond net zero thereafter.

That will require transformation on a scale many people in the sector will not have experienced previously, to support the national effort to reduce the impact of climate change. Leadership across the organisation and beyond is essential to delivering the commitments.

To increase climate literate leadership and action, Scottish Water signed up to Climate Solutions, a new online learning opportunity from the Royal Scottish Geographical Society (RSGS), in collaboration with University of Edinburgh, University of Stirling and Institute of Directors (IoD) Scotland. Climate Solutions aims to educate middle and senior business leaders and managers on climate change, outlining the actions that can be taken to mitigate the impact before it’s too late. It is offered in two ways – the Climate Solutions Professional and the 90-minute Climate Solutions Accelerator. Over 20 leaders across Scottish Water have taken part in the Climate Solutions Professional accredited course, which consists of four modules, online workshops and the development of a Climate Action Plan.

It is recommended to allow between two and three hours to complete each of the modules. During each module, there is an opportunity to capture learnings in a “Pause for Thought” session, available to participants afterwards to discuss during the workshops and to assist in the development of their Climate Action Plan.

During the workshops, there is an opportunity to meet other participants and afterwards each participant creates a Climate Action Plan for their business area. Once plans have been completed and reviewed, participants are awarded the Climate Solutions certificate and invited to become a member of the Climate Solutions Network.

Paul Campbell, Head of Learning and Organisational Development at Scottish Water believes that leadership will be vital in the delivery of the organisation’s ambitions, he said: “The professional course was the perfect way to help our leaders understand the realities of climate change and to reflect on how they could personally and practically deliver positive outcomes with respect to climate change.”

Scottish Water’s distinctive fleet of vehicles can be seen in every part of the country, helping to carry out essential services undertaken by key workers involved in a range of activity from taking samples for quality testing to repair and maintenance of infrastructure. The fleet encompasses tankers to vans specially converted to carry out their specific functions. The annual mileage is approximately 19 million and transport and travel accounted for 16 kilo tonnes of carbon emissions, highlighted in the net zero routemap.

Elaine Pringle, Fleet Manager at Scottish Water, recently completed the Climate Solutions Professional course. She said: “I was grateful to be given the opportunity to take part in the Climate Solutions Professional course. My role within Scottish Water is not directly focussed on climate and the environment. However, our fleet contributes towards Scottish Water’s overall carbon emissions. We have internal and external targets, as set out in our Net Zero Emissions Routemap, to transition to zero emission vehicles by 2030.

“The course provided me with better knowledge and understanding of the impact of climate change and the need for action. It also gave me the opportunity to reflect on how my activities, on a business and personal level, contribute towards climate change.

“Since attending the course, I have developed a strategy and plan to transition our fleet to zero emission vehicles and reduce our fleet related carbon emissions. We have implemented an Electric Vehicle (EV) only lease car policy and we will transition our small and medium vans over to EV when economic and operationally practicable. Technology and innovation challenges remain for our large vans and HGVs, so we are working closely with suppliers and others in the industry to identify opportunities.

“I would encourage other business leaders to participate in Climate Solutions to reflect and consider what action you can take to reduce emissions and mitigate the impact of our rapidly changing climate”.

To find out more about how your business or organisation can support the global movement towards net zero emissions by taking the Climate Solutions Accelerator 90 minute online course, of the Climate Solutions Professional online course, in which participants can learn from the world’s leading experts on climate change, please email: climate.solutions@rsgs.org.