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Great appetite for climate change – Liz McAreavey

Great appetite for climate change – Liz McAreavey

Chief Executive of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, Liz McAreavey

And now, as we are seeing weather patterns change and cause immense disruption and damage, and following the recent ‘red flag for humanity’ report by IPCC, suddenly there feels a greater sense of urgency and responsibility.

Climate change is not something we can ask other people to solve. If we want to ensure that future generations have a sustainable world, we cannot pass the buck to those who are facing the same global challenge.

Scotland’s hosting of COP26, the UN’s Climate Change Conference, saw world leaders gather to hammer out a deal to tackle the huge complexity of resolving the climate change crisis. While history will certainly judge their efforts and we all have a part to play,

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Edinburgh has set an ambitious ‘Sustainability Strategy’ with a target of net zero by 2030. To achieve this goal, the transition must be fair and ensure that communities, jobs, sectors, people, and communities are not left behind.

The role being played by businesses in meeting Edinburgh’s ambitious net zero target was the central theme of a two-day Summit held by Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce and the City of Edinburgh Council in the Capital during COP26.

It was an interesting two-day event that featured expert speakers on four key topics: Green Finance, Green Tourism and Greening the Built Environment. The best thing about the event was the enthusiastic participation of the audience, who asked questions and shared their views and experiences. It was also a great example of Chamber and business community working together with the City of Edinburgh Council to create a single voice for the City and better understand a variety of perspectives and challenges.

More than 750 individuals, businesses, and organisations registered to participate in the various strands, with almost 190 of them registering for the Summit. Our events were viewed online by hundreds more. In fact, in the week leading up the Summit, our website, netzeroedinburgh.org, attracted more that 12,500 new visitors. The desire to see change is evident.

Business can help lead the way, and it is encouraging that Edinburgh’s businesses have shown a desire to work with others to create a greener, better future. It is encouraging to see our country and our Capital playing such an important role. Our universities are world-leading in their research, our banks and financiers are helping drive environmental change by targeting “green finance.” We are finding better ways to build. Our infrastructure businesses are moving away from fossil fuels to lead the transition towards renewable energy. Our farmers are adopting more sustainable farming methods.

Our tourism, travel and hospitality sector are working together to make Edinburgh a top-notch green destination.

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There is a lot of work being done already by our corporate community. We need to use this knowledge to share it with SMEs, communities, the third sector and other stakeholders to push the pace and deliver our goals. There are many economic opportunities, and Edinburgh can be a global leader in knowledge economy.

No single sector can tackle climate change alone – but a collaborative effort involving every one of us can deliver real, sustainable, change for the better.

Liz McAreaveyEdinburgh Chamber of Commerce chief executive

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