Welcome to our online challenge. Each location suggests steps we can take along the way to a better future for Edinburgh, towards sustainability.

There are four elements:
1- The contribution each technology or action makes to achieve Zero Carbon
2- A local example which you can visit in reality or online.
3- What you can do at home or at work towards the 2040 Zero Carbon target.
4- The size of contribution each technology or action can make to Zero Carbon Britain.

Technologies and actions exist now. We just need to use them, so let’s start!

Find out how it can happen, find places to visit and identify three actions for you.

  • Choose where to begin.
  • Use the map to find the location of examples.
  • Demonstrate to yourself that Zero Carbon Edinburgh by 2040 is possible, using the ZCE tally sheet .

Why cut carbon now, with target of Zero Emissions by 2040 ?  Minimising the impact of climate change.

The Paris Agreement was signed by more than 200 nations, with the aim of keeping global temperature rises to below 20C . Part of the agreement is that each country will review and upgrade their commitment to action. This is our part of the process, for Scotland and the UK http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-35084374



The summer of 2017 saw horrific temperatures in southern Europe. This has not happened in Edinburgh yet, but it is a social justice, global solidarity issue.
Europe’s extreme June heat clearly linked to climate change, research shows

Collateral benefits.

Everyone has a part to play in cutting carbon. Along the way gains may include

  • Better air quality, so improved health of our citizens,
  • Reduced traffic so safer streets
  • Better insulated buildings so greater comfort at home and at work
  • Financial savings for householders and businesses

Some case studies of local initiatives can be found at http://www.sustainableedinburgh.co.uk
Energy advice for householders and businesses can be requested from Changeworks and Home Energy Scotland.
Communities can find advice and support from Community Energy Scotlandز
Advice for managers of church buildings is given by http://www.heathack.org

Background to our carbon emissions data.

Edinburgh has the target of reducing carbon emissions, based on 2005 data, by 42% by 2020. Figures from Defra have been used to create the graph below. A 30% cut was achieved between 2005 and 2015. At 3% a year from 2015 to 2020 could be another 15%, taking the city beyond the 42% target. Our emissions per person have also dropped from 7.3 kt in 2005 to 4.6 kt in 2015.

CO2 chart
Local Authority CO2 emissions estimates 2005-2015 (kt CO2) – Subset dataset Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/uk-local-authority-and-regional-carbon-dioxide-emissions-national-statistics-2005-2015

All this is encouraging and hopeful but reaching Zero Carbon will not be easy. Shutting coal fired power stations has made our electricity cleaner, but that required no effort from individual councils or citizens. This Pathways to Zero Carbon Edinburgh helps us to see which actions or technologies can have the greatest impact.
Our baseline has been the figures from the CAT ZCB project. That gives an estimate of a necessary cut of 650 millions of tonnes of CO2 or GreenHouse Gas equivalent for the whole of Britain. To reach the % contribution of each technology to ZCE we calculated to % contribution of each to reaching zero in Britain. We assumed that the % would be similar for Edinburgh, but altered some figures to reflect our urban situation and to use whole numbers, keeping it simple. Adaptation and circular economy do not have ZCB figures, but there are good examples of what is happening already.

Calculation of emission reduction contribution to reach a Zero Carbon Edinburgh, sorted by technology/technique:


ZCB mega tonnes

% of British cut

ZCE % contribution

ZCE mega tonnes estimation



18 18 12
marine 1 1.5 1 0.5
hydro 1 1.5 1 0.5
solar PV 1 1.5 2 1.5
biomass fuel 3 4.6 4 2
storage 3 4.6 5 3.5
retro fit 10 15 16 11
new build + passive house 1


2 1
use natural materials 1 1.5 2 1
electric vehicles 6 9.2 10 6.5
active travel 3 4.6 5 3.5
less flying 3 4.6 5 3.5
change diets 5 7.6 8 5.5
solar thermal  & geothermal 1 1.5 1 0.5
heat pumps 2 3 3 2
carbon capture trees & soil 4 6 6 4
growing energy crops 3 4.6 3 1.5
green industry 3 4.6 4 2
energy efficient appliances 2 3 4 3
adaptation ? ? ? ?
total 65 100 65