A NEW five-step net-zero plan has been set out to identify the most effective ways of doing business differently in Scotland so the economy and the environment can recover together after lockdown.

Zero Waste Scotland says its blueprint aims to show public, private and third-sector organisations – including businesses and councils – how to rebuild after coronavirus and meet their vital obligations on ending the climate emergency at the same time.

The circular economy expert – a not-for-profit environmental organisation, funded by the Scottish Government and European Regional Development Fund – leads efforts to reduce the vast amount of waste causing most of Scotland’s emissions.

It says finding out the biggest cause of their carbon footprint is the crucial starting point for every organisation.

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Armed with that information, businesses and other bodies could then test, implement and share experiences of ways to effectively target their own greatest organisational emissions. This would mean that the changes they make as Scotland rebuilds will do the most to ensure they hit the Scottish Government’s key pledge to end the nation’s contribution to the climate crisis by 2045.

All public bodies nationwide have been tasked by the Scottish Government to develop their own net-zero plans, and many businesses are doing the same.

The five principles include being led by evidence – calculating and targeting worst emission – and achieving absolute emissions reductions.

Zero Waste Scotland also says reducing emissions must be prioritised over offsetting; that businesses and organisations should go beyond net-zero to tackle their whole carbon footprint; and that they should share successes and failures to help accelerate change.

Chief executive Iain Gulland launched the plan, alongside a linked report sharing Zero Waste Scotland’s experience so far of successfully cutting its own emissions.

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He said: “For everyone, including us, the starting point in ending Scotland’s contribution to the climate crisis is identifying the key causes of your own organisation’s emissions so you can target them effectively. We are publishing our net-zero plan so businesses, councils and other organisations can see how to do that, what it means for us, and work out what it will look like for them, because every organisation is different.

“What we share, however, is a collective responsibility to act. We are all in this together and, as the coronavirus crisis has shown, we are also all learning together what we can do differently in response to a global crisis. We have rightly been focused on overcoming the pandemic in the short term, but we all want lockdown to end as soon as it is safe to ease the challenging but vital restrictions.

“Many have noted the resilience and resourcefulness which have characterised our collective response. This has demonstrated that new ways of working are possible which could be adapted to make a real difference in tackling the climate emergency, which remains the greatest challenge of our lifetime.

“By building back better, we can overcome both these crises at once, making the right decisions for the environment and the economy to reach net-zero and end the climate emergency by creating more jobs and businesses through a stronger, safer, fairer and more sustainable economy in Scotland.”

Zero Waste Scotland found that its own greatest emissions came from commuting and corporate travel. It said this was likely to be the same for others in the service industry. Its plan also sets out how it aims to almost halve its total operational emissions from corporate travel, electricity, heat, waste and water within just three years by expanding past measures, including a successful no-fly zone, and switching more than half of its computer servers to renewable-powered virtual systems.

With the plan produced before lockdown, Zero Waste Scotland is reviewing its proposed measures. It estimates the benefits of long-term homeworking could reduce its own carbon footprint by almost 75%.