New initiative builds on engineering past to tackle fuel poverty

Domestic-energy-use--fuel povertyA new report is to explore how Scotland’s proud engineering tradition can be harnessed to tackle fuel poverty, improve public health, create jobs and slash carbon emissions.

Commissioned by the Low Carbon Infrastructure Task Force, which includes key figures from engineering, finance, construction, academia, public sector, development and environmental groups, the ‘Scotland’s Way Ahead’ report found greater investment in low carbon infrastructure by both public and private sector must increase if Scotland’s to meet its climate change targets.

The report’s findings make clear that public investment into low carbon infrastructure would bring many benefits, including eradicating fuel poverty, improving health and creating jobs.

Almost 1 million households in Scotland are living in fuel poverty. The report argues that investing in low carbon heating systems and improving the energy efficiency of our homes could cut bills and keep homes warm.

Investing in networks to make it easier for people to take public transport, walk and cycle, it adds, is likely to reduce the rate of many health problems, including obesity, chronic diseases caused by physical inactivity, and the effects of air pollution. It could also reduce casualties by improving road safety for pedestrians and cyclists.

Finally, a low carbon economy could support up to 60,000 jobs across Scotland by 2020. UK-wide, the low carbon economy has not only grown, but proved resilient to recession, providing over a third of UK economic growth during 2011-12.

LCI visualSpeaking ahead of the report’s launch today, chair of the Low Carbon Infrastructure Task Force and director of the Institution of Civil Engineers, Sara Thiam, said: “As Scotland prepares to spend billions of pounds over the coming decades to upgrade our ageing infrastructure, it’s essential we invest wisely for the future, building infrastructure that improves our economy, environment and quality of life for the people of Scotland in the 21st Century and beyond.

“I’m delighted to be playing a part in this exciting new project which I hope will inspire the next generation of men and women into the profession to build on the legacy of famous engineers of the past including Telford, Watt, Arrol and Stevenson. They have the potential to build a better world by getting involved in 21st Century engineering projects that will stand the test of time, as the Forth Bridge has done.”

Task force member Dr Sam Gardner, head of policy at WWF Scotland, said: “WWF is thrilled to be part of this exciting initiative which aims to uncover the next big infrastructure projects for Scotland. The report shows that Scotland’s climate action plan must be matched by an infrastructure plan that ensures we build the foundations for a low carbon future. Securing the benefits of a low carbon Scotland will mean shifting the focus from projects that lock in high carbon emissions to the essential fabric of a low carbon economy such as energy efficiency, district heating and sustainable transport.”

Ross Martin, chief executive, SCDI, added: “As we take our next few steps on our journey to a low carbon economy, we recognise the importance of infrastructure in supporting our drive for higher productivity, greater levels of innovation and a stronger presence in international markets - the three key economic challenges of our time. This report sheds new light on this important issue enabling us to view low carbon infrastructure from this economic perspective.”

The Low Carbon Infrastructure Task Force members are Changeworks, Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation, Green Investment Bank, Institution of Civil Engineers, Oxfam, Pinsent Masons, Ramboll, Scottish Council for Development and Industry, WWF, Scotland’s Youth Climate Group, City of Edinburgh Council and the Scottish Government.

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