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Net zero target to be pushed back to 2040

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
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Net zero target to be pushed back to 2040

THE unrealistic target of Dumfries and Galloway becoming a net zero region by 2025 is set to be pushed back by 15 years.

The extremely ambitious aim was created in 2021 when Dumfries and Galloway Council declared a climate emergency and vowed to go all out to reduce carbon emissions.

But the task has proved much more complicated than expected – and council watchdog Audit Scotland criticised the local authority last year for having no firm plans in place to achieve its lofty goal of net zero within the next few years.

This forced council officers and councillors back to the drawing board to come up with revised plans and a new deadline.

And next week councillors will be recommended to push back the original regional target to 2040 and establish a separate target for the council’s own emissions.

Simon Fieldhouse, the council’s environment manager, states: “We would propose that Dumfries and Galloway Council (DGC) establish two net-zero targets – one for DGC and one area-wide for Dumfries and Galloway, with different dates.

“We would propose that interim checkpoints are established to facilitate and capture the work undertaken to support the delivery of those targets: 75 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2027, and a 90 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2031.

“We would recommend that Dumfries and Galloway Council becomes a carbon neutral organisation by 2033.

“We would recommend that Dumfries and Galloway Council supports the regions to become a net zero region on or before 2040, with a transition to a carbon negative region by 2045.”

And Mr Fieldhouse’s report also reveals the unique difficulties this region faces which is not experienced by other local authorities.

It states: “The council’s own estate emissions are understood to be less than one per cent of the total area wide emissions, and much of the emissions within the region are outwith the direct control of the council.

“For example, agriculture emissions are a significant proportion of area-wide emissions in Dumfries and Galloway, dominated by emissions from cattle.

“Dairy farming is one of our largest sectors, with 48 percent of Scotland’s dairy herd located in the region.”

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