Dundee Council: Mitigating climate change risk

In March 2018, Dundee City Council signed the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, committing the Dundee Partnership to develop a Climate Action Plan within two years to reduce city-wide carbon emissions by 40% by 2030.

What actions have been taken to mitigate climate change?

In March 2018, Dundee City Council signed the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, committing the Dundee Partnership to develop a Climate Action Plan within two years to reduce city-wide carbon emissions by 40% by 2030 whilst ensuring they were prepared for climate change. The change in dialogue and the declaration of a Climate Emergency in June 2019 led the Council to align its targets with the Scottish Governments new target of net-zero GHG Emissions by 2045.

The Covenant required that cities develop this plan in collaboration with public, private and community organisations to ensure cooperation and commitment across the City to meet the targets. 64 actions were identified by partners across the themes of energy, transport, waste and resilience.

Three types of actions were defined:

  • those that have direct impact on emissions and resilience, such as an energy efficiency programmes
  • those that help to deliver or implement the direct actions, such as undertaking research, securing funding, measuring and monitoring
  • those that enable the delivery of actions such as developing governance and project management frameworks

50% of the actions in the plan are direct actions. These are the first set of actions in a long-term pathway to achieve the net-zero target - much more detailed and ambitious projects will have to be identified and this will need on-going input from academics, businesses and communities across the four themes.

They include:


Heating and lighting accounts for 70% of the emissions in Dundee and so this is a priority area.

  • city scale behaviour change with regard to energy use
  • whole Life Costing of new developments and renovations for long term cost savings
  • complete NDEE of council properties
  • retrofit energy efficiency measures in all buildings across the city
  • installation of proven technologies such a solar PV across public and private properties
  • research the feasibility of utilising local water bodies for renewables
  • identify and fund district heating opportunities
  • ensure new infrastructure is capable of renewables based district heating as well as integration with low carbon transport, e.g. hydrogen power
  • Dundee City Energy Services Company (ESCO) to coordinate planning and funding


  • delivering the Dundee Cycling Strategy including behavioural campaigns and infrastructure
  • a new Waterfront Active Travel Hub
  • low emission zone
  • increasing low carbon buses and taxis
  • increasing EV infrastructure
  • e-bike hire introduction
  • installation of hydrogen generation equipment and a hydrogen Refuelling Station at Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc, plus the introduction of 12 new hydrogen buses in Dundee.


  • develop and implement circular economy projects identified by the Circular Tayside initiative and deliver a circular economy education strategy across the city
  • city-wide waste education
  • reduce single use plastics
  • continuous communications to improve recycling participation
  • ZWS Food Pilot scheme
  • Whole life costing approach to developments to ensure resilient low carbon buildings with minimal waste
  • stimulate reuse, upcycling and repairing opportunities and skills
  • support the Scottish Governments Deposit Return Scheme and other viable take back schemes.
  • trial Smart Waste Technology
  • provide advice and support on resource efficiency and climate risk management for businesses in Dundee (Resource Efficient Scotland)


  • placemaking and green infrastructure in design through collaboration across disciplines including air quality, transport, waste, renewable energy, community, trees and biodiversity, planning, sustainable materials in building, building, infrastructure
  • surface water management plans
  • increase local food growing opportunities
  • resilient transport and energy networks
  • biodiversity enhancement and protection
  • increasing trees across the city
  • coastal management using soft engineering techniques
  • community resilience networks
  • smart communications
  • public health information campaigns and disaster emergency response

How has this been implemented?

The plan was published in December 2019. A week of awareness raising events are planned for the week leading up to WWF’s Earth Hour Week (23-28th March 2020) including elected members, senior managers, businesses, schools, NHS, universities and community groups.

A Climate Leadership Group are convened to develop the plan further and identify the large scale actions required.

The actions will be monitored and coordinated by Dundee City Council with regular reports required from partners on their specific actions.

A stakeholder event will be held annually to review the plan allow partners to develop new ideas that further develop the plan. This year the event will take place in November 2020, in the lead up to COP26.

What was involved in the planning on this action?

This commitment was driven by:

  • National and international commitments – Paris Agreement, Climate Change Bill
  • tackling fuel poverty
  • maximising economic opportunities
  • decarbonising energy
  • city resilience
  • the Climate Emergency Declaration

A baseline emissions inventory was carried out, with 2005 as the baseline year. A 24% reduction in carbon emissions was achieved between 2005 and 2015. Under a low carbon scenario, emissions will reduce by 53% by 2030. However they now need to look at much more ambitious projects that will help them reach our net zero target by 2045. 

Council property and services account for 4%, which is why a city wide approach is essential and collaboration is a key feature of this plan.

They held a visioning workshop in August 2018 with 20 different public, private and community organisations represented. This initially led to over 100 actions. Smaller workshops and meetings helped to refine these actions to 64 across the four themes.

As part of the Covenant, a climate adaptation plan is required alongside the mitigation actions. A risk and vulnerability assessment was carried out across 10 policy sectors. This involved smaller workshops grouping related sectors together, e.g. Energy, Buildings and Transport. Data from the Met Office shows that Dundee will become warmer and wetter in summer and hotter and drier in winter. This will lead to more surface water and coastal flooding, greater intensity and frequency of storms and an increase in the heat island effect. Impacts identified include damage to infrastructure, disruption of services, interruptions to supply chains, tourism and businesses as well as changes to the natural environment and human health. The actions proposed in the plan reflect these impacts.

What steps were taken internally to pass the plan or action?

The plan had to be approved by the Council's management team and the Policy and Resources Committee. It also had to go through a Strategic Environmental Assessment Public Consultation process, as well as approval from the partners involved with the plan.

Did anything go wrong? 

When they were close to taking the original plan to committee, the Council declared a Climate Emergency in response to the actions of national governments. This required them to rethink their targets and narrative. However, the Climate Emergency has really helped to galvanize and promote the plan and they have had further partners in the City recognise the urgency of the climate crisis and wishing to collaborate with the plan in light of this renewed interest.

What is the advice for others taking similar steps?

Collaboration across multiple disciplines is essential. There can be considerable overlap and also opportunities for cooperation between sectors.

There is a need to accurately quantify the emissions reduction of actions in order to assess our progress against targets. This requires extensive scenario modelling and specialist knowledge. This is the next important step and should be considered at the outset for other organisations.