Stirling is aiming to become the UK's first carbon neutral city thanks to £1.25m in funding announced today from the Big Lottery Fund and the Scottish Government to the community led Going Carbon Neutral Stirling (GCNS) project.
The ambitious project, which is also supported by Stirling Council, aims to work from the grassroots up including local businesses to bring about significant change in the behaviour of every Stirlingshire resident to reduce their carbon footprint and tackle the growing threat of climate change.
This is the first time that any project in the UK has attempted to change carbon-emitting behaviour on such a large scale. GCNS hopes to bring down average annual Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions per head in Scotland from the current level of 12 tonnes to a sustainable level of one tonne per person, per year.
Announcing the first exemplar project under the new Climate Challenge Fund, Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Richard Lochhead MSP said: "I am delighted to announce funding of £750,000 to help Going Carbon Neutral Stirling work with the local community to reduce their carbon footprint. We want Scotland to be part of the global solution to tackling the threat of climate change.
"The Scottish Government with the Scottish Greens has launched the £18.8 million Climate Challenge Fund, to enable communities such as Stirling to take action to make a real difference to the environment, and help achieve an 80 per cent reduction in emissions by 2050. This is the start of an exciting new era for community empowerment and I'd encourage all those in Scotland who want to make a difference locally and globally to come forward with their ideas."
Speaking on the Kings Knot, in the shadow of Stirling Castle, Dharmendra Kanani, Big Lottery Fund Scotland Director announced £500,000 from the BIG's Investing in Communities portfolio to support this project. He said: "The ethos of Going Carbon Neutral Stirling is all about local action to bring about significant environmental change by bringing people together and encouraging true community involvement. Ensuring that people from the young to old, from the self employed to large businesses all see where they can play their part in tackling climate change.
"It's not simply the green credentials of their project which make it so valuable but it's aspiration to include everyone and belief that it can and will include everyone, bringing together people who perhaps have never met before to make a huge difference. We believe our funding will not only enable the people of Stirling to live a more sustainable lifestyle but also bring communities that perhaps would not have come together before to do so more effectively."
Scottish Green MSP Patrick Harvie said: "Stirling has a vision on how to go carbon neutral, and their efforts will inspire others to follow. When the history of our work to beat climate change and develop a truly sustainable low carbon Scotland is written, this will be seen as a crucial day.
"We wish them well, and would like to encourage others to visit climatechallengefund.org to find out more and apply for money to support their ideas in this area."
GCNS will be administered through Keep Scotland Beautiful. The group's Chief Executive John Summers OBE said: "This project offers an exciting and unique opportunity to engage with the public, businesses and communities across the Stirling area to make a real difference in reducing carbon dioxide emissions. The welcome support from the Big Lottery Fund, the Scottish Government and Stirling Council is testimony to the importance of this issue at a national and local level and the opportunity it offers the people in the Stirling area to participate and benefit from a more sustainable lifestyle."
Stirling Council's Portfolio Holder with responsibility for Environment, Councillor Jim Thomson, said: "Stirling Council is looking forward to working in partnership with Going Carbon Neutral Stirling to deliver this important initiative. The Council has already made a commitment by adopting Sustainability as one of its 3 Strategic Themes and signed up to Scotland's Climate Change Declaration last year. We are working with the Carbon Trust to develop a programme for managing our own carbon emissions and the Going Carbon Neutral in Stirling project will assist us to engage more directly with our communities, both within the Council and in the wider Stirling area."
Supporting today's announcement Dr Richard Dixon, Director of WWF Scotland said: "WWF Scotland is delighted that Stirling's exciting attempt to become the first Scottish city to go carbon neutral is receiving such widespread support and backing. We know that many communities around Scotland are keen to contribute to the fight against climate change and they can play a very important role in taking practical action to lower their emissions.
"WWF received a terrific response from the public when we visited Stirling recently as part of our campaign to collect consultation responses backing a strong Scottish Climate Change Bill. We look forward to a strong Scottish Climate Change Bill providing an excellent framework which supports policy change and practical action to cut Scotland's emissions by 80% by 2050."