Good steer on the road towards net zero

Judi Kilgallon, Project Manager of Climate Change Transformation at the Improvement Service, believes Climate Solutions can boost the collective efforts of Scotland’s local authorities to reduce emissions.

“Action is urgently needed from all sectors to achieve Net Zero and adapt to the impacts of climate change. Local Government is well placed to design and deliver these solutions, and has an essential role to play in not only taking action but also through influence and leadership.

The Improvement Service was established in 2005 as a national organisation to support local authorities to provide effective community leadership, strong local governance and high quality, efficient local services. We provide practical, tailored support and have a unique position through our reach across the local government community.

Climate change is a driver of our Strategic Framework and a cross-cutting theme of our core priorities. To be relevant and effective, a robust response to climate change must be embedded across our programmes and operations and my position was newly created to develop our work in this area. I wanted to have a stronger understanding of where we could have the most impact and was able to apply for a place on Climate Solutions.

Climate Solutions is 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, highlighting market prescience, outlining the actions that can be taken to mitigate the impact, as well as the opportunities which exist by incorporating these solutions within business operations going forward. It is offered in two ways – the Climate Solutions Professional and the 90-minute Climate Solutions Accelerator.

The Climate Solutions Professional course stood out as providing a balance of science, policy, and most importantly practical solutions. Designed by an impressive collaboration of academics and experts, the structure of the course was engaging and accessible, with a combination of personal study complemented by two interactive workshops. The online platform ensured effective use of time, and the workshops created an innovative and supportive space to share ideas across sectors. Climate change needs a collaborative approach and the opportunity to bring together the public and private sector was a highlight.

The aim is to build your capability by exploring useful and relevant frameworks and examples which you can then apply to your organisation. Throughout, you are empowered to take the time to reflect and think critically about personal and organisational opportunities. The learning and networking continue as I am now part of an expanding and evolving community of Climate Solutions graduates who are involved in regular events and knowledge sharing opportunities.

Since taking the course, I have been able to more effectively drive change and transformation within the Improvement Service and our partners. I now have a clearer understanding of what we need to do and where we can make the biggest impact.

We are reviewing all our activity from Board level to individual workloads, and are in the process of agreeing our Net Zero strategy and actions. Organisation-wide engagement and education is central to raise awareness, creating a shared understanding and language around the contribution all employees can make. We are liaising with professional networks to share learning, expanding our work on data analysis and benchmarking, shaping planning policy and developing resources and events for Elected Members. We can help embed transformation by building capacity, sharing notable practice and communicating and influencing the national picture. Building and developing new and existing partnerships with organisations like COSLA, the Sustainable Scotland Network and the Scottish Cities Alliance is central to our approach.

Local Government will continue to shape and accelerate the response to climate change and deliver benefits for people and planet. Across Scotland, councils are driving change through the management of their buildings and fleets, development of new policies and place based approaches and bringing together partnerships. The Improvement Service has an important role to play in supporting this innovation and transformation and we look forward to continuing to develop our activity.

The climate crisis will be solved by people. Whatever your sector and whatever your role you need the skills to make a difference. In this pivotal year of COP26, now is the time to be part of the solution.”

To sign up or to find our more about the Climate Solutions Professional or Climate Solutions Accelerator, please email: