• Act Local: Community Transport, Climate Action and Scotland’s Just Transition to Net Zero

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    • Act Local: Community Transport, Climate Action and Scotland’s Just Transition to Net Zero
    • by David Kelly
      Director for Scotland

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    Scotland was one of the first countries in the world to declare a global climate emergency in 2019.

    We have ambitious targets to reduce car use by 20% by 2030 and achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2045. Yet we’ve missed our legally binding carbon reduction targets in 8 out of the last 12 years. Transport emissions are stubbornly high, almost unchanged in three decades.

    Time is running out, as climate change intensifies. We need to do more – and we need a different approach. We need to identify what works and invest in it – to nurture, grow and replicate local projects all across the country. It’s time for community-led climate action.

    Act Local

    Our new report therefore takes its inspiration from Patrick Geddes, the pioneering Scottish town planner, who was an early thinker in the movement to create more sustainable local communities in harmony with nature. His credo, adopted by many community and climate activists, has been summarised as: ‘Think global, act local’.

    In Act Local: Climate Action, Community Transport and Scotland’s Just Transition to Net Zero, we discuss how non-profit operators are transforming their urban and rural communities into more accessible, healthy and sustainable places to live by reducing car use, reducing carbon emissions and encouraging active travel.

    Case Studies

    It’s not just about the transition to zero-emission fleets – although that’s a big part of the role our sector needs to play. Our new report presents 7 fantastic case studies of best practice – from Climate Action Strathaven’s community-owned bus to Partnerships for Wellbeing’s Inverness Festival of Walking and Wheeling – to inspire communities, funders, politicians and policymakers and illustrate the art of the possible.

    As grassroots organisations, local Community Transport operators are perfectly placed to design and deliver cost-effective, impactful and innovative solutions which reduce carbon emissions, reduce car use and accelerate modal shift.

    They plug gaps in our public transport network. They make shared transport accessible, affordable and attractive to everyone. They empower people to take climate action, change their travel behaviours and get out of cars. They are essential partners for national and local government to deliver a Just Transition to net zero which leaves no one and no community behind.


    63% of Community Transport operators in Scotland agree that climate action is part of their mission and 77% have taken climate action in the last 12 months. But nearly half do not have net zero plan or strategy in place. Communities require more practical support to achieve net zero, which is why our Climate Action programme, and resources like the Growing Climate Confidence platform, are so important.

    Community Transport operators are working hard to transition to zero-emission vehicles, but need more investment. 18% of Scotland’s Community Transport fleet is now electric, up from 12% in 2021. This represents an average annual increase of 3% and positive progress in the sector’s transition to net zero despite an extremely challenging financial and operational context over the last two years.

    However, a lack of funding (54%) and a lack of charging infrastructure (29%) are still cited by many operators as barriers to going further, faster. We estimate that Community Transport vehicle costs have soared by 17% in just 18 months.

    Read our Report

    You can download our report here to see our case studies, our data and our recommendations.

    Join the Conversation

    What do you think? Follow us on Twitter @CTAUK1 and be part of the debate with #ActLocal and #MoreThanaMinibus.

    Further Information

    Got questions? Ideas for next steps? Or want to work with us to make our vision a reality?

    Please visit www.ctauk.org/climateaction or email us at scotland@ctauk.org to find out more or arrange a conversation. As ever, we’d love to hear from you.

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    1 Comment

    • Susan Laidlaw - Grease Monkey

      12:22 8th September 2023

      We could not agree more that the changes required need to be community-led. It will be the communities that benefit from the changes and will be able to prioritise more effectively the changes needed to make liveable neighbourhoods.Investment in communities is key.

      There is no point in decision-making happening outwith the communities as often the full picture is missed.

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