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Climate Change

>IPCC working group 3 report on mitigating the effects of climate change

>IPCC working group 2 report on devastating impact of climate change

>IPCC working group 1 report on the scientific case for urgent action

Highland Council has a Climate Change Committe and a number of officials working on Climate Change

Climate Change Officer
Neil Osbourne

Joe Perry – Climate Change Coordinator –

Katie Andrews – Climate Change Coordinator –
Read Katie's story

Emma Whitham – Project Manager (Highland Adapts) –

Jackie Sayer – EV Project Manager –

Roselyn Clarke – Climate Change Coordinator (Transport) –

Kirsty Ellen – Food Growing Coordinator (Policy and Reform Team) –

Climate Change Coordinator
Development and Infrastructure
The Highland Council HQ, Glenurquhart Road
Inverness IV3 5NX
Tel. 01463 702581 |

There is also an 'Eco Officer Network', consisting of a group of around 70 volunteers from across Council services who help these officials to arrange and deliver a variety of initiatives related to carbon reduction.


> New Council climate change partnership
> UK 'Green New Deal' - Decarbonisation Bill
> UK Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill

Climate news

September 2023

‘A critical moment’: UN warns world will miss climate targets unless fossil fuels phased out

Governments failing to cut emissions fast enough to meet Paris agreement goals and avoid disaster, major report says

The Guardian  8 September 2023   Fiona Harvey  Environment Editor

Governments are failing to cut greenhouse gas emissions fast enough to meet the goals of the Paris agreement and to stave off climate disaster, a major report by the UN has found.

Meeting the goals will require “phasing out all unabated fossil fuels”, the report says, in an acknowledgment that some oil-producing countries may find hard to take.

The need to phase out fossil fuels has not been explicitly adopted by the UN before, under successive rounds of climate talks, and language over “phasing out” or “phasing down” fossil fuels has caused controversy at the annual UN climate talks.

Read the Guardian article    (the link to the draft UN report does not seem to work).


July 2023

UK Government in denial on climate change

On Thursday last week (20 July) climate scientists lined up on the BBC to condemn what fifteen of them described in a letter to Rishi Sunak as the government's 'lackadaisical' attitude to global warming, and accused the government of dishonestly claiming to still be international leaders in climate change mitigation when this was no longer true.

A long item on Radio 4's The World at One began with a series of quotations, about the importance of 'keeping 1.5 alive'.  There followed a recording of a Today Programme interview the same day with Sir Bob Watson, Director of Strategic Development for the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia, and live interviews with Dr Chris Smith, Research Fellow at the Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science at Leeds University, Lord Stern, currently Chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at LSE and  leader of the of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, published in 2006, and Lord Deben, recently retired Chair of the UK Climate Change Committee.  All feared that the target of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels was no longer achievable, and accused the government of not taking climate change seriously enough, and not taking sufficient action to try to mitigate its effects.  A statement made to The World at One by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, in an attempt to justify the government's current attitude to climate change, said  the UK was 

“a world leader on net zero, cutting emissions faster than any other G7 country, and has attracted billions of investment into renewables, which now account for 40% of our electricity.  In the last year alone we have confirmed the first state backing of a new nuclear project in over 30 years and invested billions to kick-start new industries like carbon capture and floating offshore wind.

“With a new department dedicated to delivering net zero and energy security, this government is driving economic growth, creating jobs, bringing down energy bills, and reducing our dependence on imported fossil fuels.”

Listen to The World at One  item  (You may have to sign in to BBC Sounds - the item starts at 7.30.  The government statement is at 21.30).

Sir Bob Watson on the Today programme  20 July  Esme Stallard & Justin Rowlatt    BBC News Climate and Science

Climate scientists' and industrialists' letters to Rishi Sunak  Financial Times  20 July  Jim Pickard and Attracta Mooney.


July 2023

The choice between a poorer today and a hotter tomorrow

The Economist reports on a dilemma facing global institutions and developing countries.

Without billions of extra dollars, policymakers face a terrible decision

Jun 27th 2023 | ACCRA AND PARIS

Suppose, for a minute, that you are a finance minister in the developing world. At the end of a year in which your tax take has disappointed, you are just about out of money. You could plough what little remains into your health-care system: dollars spent by clinics help control infectious diseases, and there is not much that development experts believe to be a better use of cash. But you could also spend the money constructing an electrical grid that is able to handle a switch to clean energy. In the long run this will mean less pollution, more productive farmland and fewer floods. Which is a wiser use of the marginal dollar: alleviating acute poverty straight away or doing your country’s bit to stop baking the planet?

The thought experiment is a simplified version of a dilemma facing global institutions and developing countries. On June 22nd politicians descended on Paris for a summit to design “a new global financial pact”. The aim was to work out how to spread the cost of climate change. Leaders from poor countries turned up in droves; aside from Emmanuel Macron, France’s president, no Western head of state made it. Little surprise, then, that the jamboree ended without rich countries coughing up a single extra dollar. Instead, attendees tinkered with the World Bank and the imf, the biggest of the multilateral agencies that seek to reduce poverty. The lack of action means painful trade-offs lie ahead.

Read the Economist article

Paris climate finance summit 22/23 June delivers momentum but few results

Rich countries were reluctant to engage with the Global South’s key demands on debt relief and new financing for climate action.

Politico  23 June 2023   Zia Weise and Zack Zolman

Developing nations called for a “transformation” of the world’s financial system at French President Emmanuel Macron’s Summit for a New Global Financing Pact.  Western countries offered tweaks. 

However, the two-day summit — which sought to turbocharge reform efforts aimed at unlocking the trillions of dollars required to tackle climate change — did deliver a sense of growing momentum. 

Yet despite progress on some fronts, the Paris summit ended Friday barely having addressed the underlying problems preventing developing countries from investing in development and climate measures — in particular, their crushing debt levels. 

Read the article


June 2023

Committee condemns UK Government for net zero targets failure

The UK Climate Change Committee, in the last Report to Parliament to be presented by the retiring Chairman Lord Deben, condemns the government for  failing to come anywhere near reaching its net zero targets.

The government’s plans to hit net zero have been comprehensively criticised in a withering report by its own advisers that says targets are being missed on nearly every front.

Fewer homes were insulated last year under the government-backed scheme than the year before, despite soaring energy bills and a cost of living crisis. There is little progress on transport emissions, no coherent programme for behaviour change, and still no decision on hydrogen for home heating.

Meanwhile the installation of new wind and solar farms and the upgrading of the electricity grid are still too slow to meet net zero, according to the Climate Change Committee, which says that the lack of urgency of government and a failure of political leadership means progress has stalled.

Lord Deben . . . said the UK had “lost the leadership” on climate action shown at Cop26 in 2021 and done “a number of things” – such as greenlighting a new coal mine and new oil and gasfields in the North Sea – that were “utterly unacceptable”.

The Guardian   28 June 2023   Fiona Harvey  Environment Editor

Among Lord Deben's forceful responses when interviewed on the BBC's Today Programme were

"The government is relying on technology we don't have . ."

"We are not doing the things we have to do . ." 

"Out there there are millions of people whose future we are destroying"

"If we don't fight climate change, we will leave a world which is too hot for people to live in, it will have migratory people moving all over the world, moving away from the [thugs?] and the heat, and we will not give to our children the kind of world which we have received . ."

"So what I'm concerned about is - if we don't act now . . . this will not be the world which we would wish anyone to live in."

You can listen to the broadcast  here . 

You may have to register on the BBC website if you haven't used it before.  The interview with Lord Deben begins at 3.39.29 .

Read the Committee's Key Messages and full report


March 2023

New report from IPCC

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has just launched its latest report on the climate crisis.  The AR6 Synthesis Report: Climate Change 2023 summarizes five years of reports on global temperature rises, fossil fuel emissions and climate impacts.

Commenting on the report, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres looked ahead to COP28, which will be held in November 2023 in Dubai, calling for  'all G20 leaders to have committed to ambitious new economy-wide nationally determined contributions encompassing all greenhouse gases and indicating their absolute emissions cuts targets for 2035 and 2040. The transition must cover the entire economy. Partial pledges won’t cut it'.

'Guided by the solutions laid out by the IPCC, this must be our moment to course correct and to usher in a complete and urgent response that accelerates all our efforts'.

IPCC press release

World Economic Forum   Details and comment


January 2023

Climate action and the Arts - Creative Carbon Scotland

TBI trustee Rose Grant has drawn attention to this Arts / Environmental organisation and  its 'Climate Beacons' and 'Springboard' projects.

Creative Carbon Scotland  believes in the essential role of the arts, screen, cultural and creative industries in contributing to the transformational change to a more environmentally sustainable Scotland.
.   .   .   .
Since Creative Carbon Scotland started the journey in 2011 to embed environmental sustainability within the arts and cultural sector in Scotland, the organisation itself has developed enormously.  From aiming to help arts organisations to report their carbon emissions – no small task in itself but one which is well under way – we are now focusing on exploring the sector’s role in transforming our society to address climate change.  This is a much larger job but we believe that it offers great benefits for both the sector and society as a whole.

Climate Beacons are local Arts / Environmental 'hubs', described as  'Bringing together . . the public, artists and cultural sector professionals, environmental NGOs, scientists and policymakers to engage with environmental themes and climate action specific to each local area'.  There are seven hubs in Scotland, in Argyll, Caithness & East Sutherland, Fife, Inverclyde, Midlothian, The Outer Hebrides and Tayside.  The Caithness and East Sutherland Hub, built around Timespan in Helmsdale and the Lyth Arts Centre, must overlap to some extent with the Scottish Government sponsored Highlands and Islands Climate Hub based in Thurso, but they are completely separate organisations.

'Climate Beacons initially ran from June 2021 to July 2022, leading up to and following on from the COP26 climate talks held in Glasgow in November 2021. . . Work from all the Climate Beacons is now continuing into 2023'.

The Springboard  'Assembly for creative climate action is a long-term collaborative project, led by Creative Carbon Scotland, to bring about transformational change in Scotland's creative sector to help build a net-zero, climate-ready world.'

It is to hold its first national assembly online on 27 February - 2 March. -------------------------

January 2023

Extinction Rebellion changes tactics

The climate protest group Extinction Rebellion is shifting tactics from disruptions such as smashing windows and glueing themselves to public places in 2023, it has announced.

A new year resolution to “prioritise attendance over arrest and relationships over roadblocks”, was spelled out in a 1 January statement titled “We quit”, which said “constantly evolving tactics is a necessary approach”.

The group admitted the move would be controversial. Other environmental protest groups, such as Just Stop Oil, have stepped up direct actions, notably throwing paint at art masterpieces.

The Guardian  1 January 2023  Robert Booth 
Read the full article

The  Guardian 4 August 2020  Matthew Taylor
'The evolution of Extinction Rebellion'


September 2022

Highland Council sets up Climate Change Committee

Highland Council has upgraded its Climate Change Panel to a full committee.

The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 placed a legal duty on the Council to support national efforts to tackle climate change.  The Climate Change Committee will have a critical role in providing advice and guidance on the climate, ecological and environmental sustainability agenda.

It will also identify, support and champion climate and ecological progress across the Council, whilst providing an appropriate level of critical challenge for the organisation.

Members and functions

April 2022

IPCC third report, on mitigating effects of climate change

This is the report of the third working group under the IPCC's Sixth Assessment Report since it was set up in 1988.  Introducing the report, the IPCC states

The Working Group III report provides an updated global assessment of climate change mitigation progress and pledges, and examines the sources of global emissions. It explains developments in emission reduction and mitigation efforts, assessing the impact of national climate pledges in relation to long-term emissions goals.

The significance of the report is emphasised by Fiona Harvey in the Guardian of 4 April 2022

Working group 3, published on 4 April 2022, set out the ways in which the world can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It found that countries were falling behind on the policies and actions needed to reach net zero emissions, and on current form could see temperatures rise by as much as 3C, a catastrophic level. Drastic changes will be needed to all aspects of the global economy and society, to phase out dependence on fossil fuels. Staving off the worst consequences predicted by the first two working groups is still possible, but only if governments take immediate and decisive action.

Read the full article

Publications from the IPCC are not easy reading.  In order of accessibility are its press release on publication of the report, with a downloadable PDF version; the Summary for Policymakers, itself a complex document with a lot of figures and footnotes (64p PDF); and the Full Report, a massive document with 17 chapters and 2913 pages.  (Download individual chapters).

More accessible are further articles from The Guardian's environment team

IPCC report: ‘now or never’ if world is to stave off climate disaster
Fiona Harvey 4 April

Final warning: what does the IPCC’s third report instalment say?  
Fiona Harvey 4 April

It’s over for fossil fuels: IPCC spells out what’s needed to avert climate disaster  
Damian Carrington 4 April


February 2022

IPCC second report, on devastating impact of climate change

By an unfortunate coincidence the International Panel on Climate Change issued its 'bleakest warning yet' of the devastating human impacts of climate change just four days after Russian forces invaded Ukraine, and as a result it has gone largely unnoticed.

IPCC Press release

In The Guardian environment correspondent Fiona Harvey quoted António Guterres, the UN Secretary General, as saying “I have seen many scientific reports in my time, but nothing like this. Today’s IPCC report is an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership.”

The Guardian  28 February   Fiona Harvey

An unattributed article in The Economist comments on the frequent occurrence of  'an uneasy feeling that what you took to be the natural way of things has been changed, without your consent, and that your life does not fit into it as once it did. It is the sort of feeling you might expect if, say, what used to be an unusually wet year was now merely typical. It might be dismissed as the “new normal”. But it does not feel normal, and it never will. Before you get used to it, it will have changed yet again.'

The Economist  5 March   Unattributed


August 2021

IPCC publishes  new report on climate crisis

On 9 August 2021 The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published a report entitled 'AR6 Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis' in which it says, in stronger terms than it had previously used, that  humanity’s role in driving climate change was “unequivocal”, and makes the clear scientific case for urgent action to reduce carbon emissions worldwide by 2030.

The report  runs to nearly 4000 pages and is not easy reading.  It begins with a 'Summary for Policymakers', prepared in a fortnight-long meeting of scientists, in which governments also play a key role and can temper the findings of the SPM.  Fiona Harvey writes in The Guardian (9 August 2021)

'That has led to criticism in the past, as some scientists have charged that the messages have been toned down, and new science such as concerns over tipping points in the climate system have been sidelined. However, it also means governments cannot ignore the findings they have themselves endorsed.'

A chapter by chapter summary on the Quartz website, helps to grasp the main themes of the report.

A useful briefing by the Royal Society on 'Keeping global warming to 1.5°C - Challenges and opportunities for the UK.'  is undated, but refers to the previous 2018 IPCC report  'Global Warming of 1.5 ºC' , also undated.  It seems unbelievable that scientific bodies put undated articles on the internet.

Only the first part of the IPCC's  'Sixth Assessment Report', dealing with our knowledge of the physical basis of climate change – the core underlying science – was published on 9 August. Two further instalments, on the impacts of the climate crisis and on ways of reducing those impacts, will follow next year.


May 2021

Highland Council creates new climate change partnership - Highland Adapts

Emma Whitham, founder and leading light for the last four years of MOO Food, has been appointed Principal Project Manager of Highland Adapts, a Highland Council initiative bringing together a range of environmental and community organisations to develop  a region-based, partnership approach to climate change adaptation.

The partnership currently consists of Highland Council, NHS Highland, Changeworks/Home Energy Scotland, Zero Waste Scotland, Forestry and Land Scotland, NatureScot and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

From Highland Council press release

Highland Adapts will pioneer a fair, inclusive and integrated approach to adapting to climate change. The initiative will seek to involve communities in all aspects of its work, recognising there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to climate action.

The initiative will also work proactively to ensure that disadvantaged and underrepresented groups are involved and benefit equally. 

The impacts of climate change have already been felt across Highland: from damage to infrastructure, to disruption of vital services, and a shift in growing seasons.

Work in Highland to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will contribute to limiting the extent of future climate change but we cannot turn back the clock. Past and present-day emissions mean that the rate of climate change is set to intensify over the coming decades, and it is recognised that we need to develop plans for how we are going to adapt now.

Full press release, with links to partners

Highland Council climate change pages


December 2020

UK 'Green New Deal' Bill  2020-21

UK Decarbonisation and Economic Strategy Bill 2020

What has become known as the 'Green New Deal Bill', a Private Member's Bill sponsored by Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, received its first reading without debate in July 2020, and is due to come before Parliament for second reading on 12 March 2021.

The preamble to the bill describes it as

A Bill to place duties on the Secretary of State to decarbonise the United Kingdom economy and to reverse inequality; to establish a ten-year economic and public investment strategy in accordance with those duties which promotes a community- and employee-led transition from high-carbon to low- and zero-carbon industry; to require the Government to report on its adherence to the strategy; to establish higher environmental standards for air, water and green spaces; to make provision to protect and restore natural habitats; and for connected purposes.

The bill as introduced

Caroline Lucas wrote about the bill in The Guardian on 20 September 2019.


September 2020

UK Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill  2020

Another Private Member's Bill, again sponsored by Caroline Lucas and five other MPs and tabled on 20 September 2020.  Of the total of 75 MPs supporting the Bill, not one is a Conservative.

The motion and supporters

What is the Bill about?      The CEE Bill Alliance says

In a nutshell, the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill calls for:

  • the UK to make and enact a serious plan. This means dealing with our real fair share of emissions so that we don’t go over critical global rises in temperature
  • our entire carbon footprint be taken into account (in the UK and overseas)
  • the protection and conservation of nature here and overseas along supply chains, recognising the damage we cause through the goods we consume
  • those in power not to depend on technology to save the day, which is used as an excuse to carry on polluting as usual
  • ordinary people to have a real say on the way forward in a citizens’ assembly with bite

Support from Extinction Rebellion

View and download the Bill as introduced



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