Pioneer communities: Six Scottish Islands announce net zero by 2040 goal

Holyrood reveals the six islands have signed up to Carbon Neutral Islands project, which aims to reach net zero emissions 10 years ahead of the rest of the UK

Could some of the UK’s most remote communities show the rest of the country how to build a net zero emission economy? The Scottish government this week announced that the islands of Hoy, Islay, Great Cumbrae, Raasay, Barra, and Yell are to become trailblazers for the zero transition, after signing up to an initiative to become carbon neutral by 2040, a full decade ahead of the UK’s 2050 target date.

The Carbon Neutral Islands project is a collaboration between local authorities, island representatives, and Holyrood and will aim to share best practices and insights from the project with all of Scotland’s islands and the mainland.

The project will also align with the Scottish government’s net zero by 2045 commitment, which is itself five years ahead of the UK’s goal. A report on the project is now set to be published over the summer with decarbonisation plans then set to be developed for the individual islands in collaboration with key partners and the communities involved.

“Scotland is at the forefront of climate change mitigation and adaptation at the global level, and I’ve always believed that our islands will contribute significantly to the country’s net zero commitment,” said Rural Affairs and Islands Secretary Mairi Gougeon. “I was pleased to announce at COP26 that we are taking this ambition further than the original commitment, now aiming to support six islands in their journey towards carbon neutrality by 2040.

Several Scottish islands are already acting as test beds for a number of clean technologies. For example, Orkney is home to a series of major wave and tidal projects, while the island was also the take off point for the UK’s first hybrid electric flight from green aviation technology specialist Ampaire.

“This project is another testament to Scottish islands being in the vanguard of innovation, leading the way in the journey to net zero while supporting other areas across Scotland,” Gougeon added.

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