Power to the grid: How Scotland is tackling climate change

By Kevin Keane
BBC Scotland's environment correspondent

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image copyrightKevin Keane
image captionThe Donside Hydro Archimedes Screw delivers £30,000 profit to the community every year

Almost a year after the historic Paris agreement on climate change, Scotland's environment secretary is preparing to head to Morocco for this year's conference.

In 2015, world leaders - including the US President Barack Obama - agreed to cap global temperature rises at "well below" 2C.

This time the event won't be so headline-grabbing, but it will be an opportunity for Scotland to shout about its aims and achievements.

So what does Scotland have to shout about?

One of the big achievements can be seen on the River Don in Aberdeen where an Archimedes screw provides power for the grid.

The huge rotating screw that thumps its way through the water is not just unusual to see, it also provides benefits to those living alongside it.

It is community-owned and generates a profit of £30,000 a year to spend locally.

Sinclair Laing, from Aberdeen Community Energy, said: "A lot of schemes are seen to be overly commercial where only big companies and private enterprise is profiting.

"Seeing renewable electricity on a local scale which is returning benefits to a community turns around that perspective."

The biggest reduction in Scotland's greenhouse gas emissions has come from electricity generation like the Donside Hydro.

image copyrightKevin Keane
image captionGlasgow has a growing network of electric vehicle charging points

Earlier this year, it was confirmed that the Scottish government had met its targets for greenhouse gas emissions six years early.

But below that headline figure there are areas of struggle. In transport, for example, there's been little change since 1990.

Glasgow City Council is trying to change that by installing a growing network of charging points for electric cars, but take-up is slow.

Head of infrastructure Andy Waddell said: "We've seen a growth in the sales of electric vehicles in recent years but they are only making up a proportion of about 1.5% of new car sales.

"But we do expect to see a huge growth in the coming years."

Why so sure? Well, early next year ministers will set new targets and explain how they are going to be achieved.

But the conference will focus on impact as well as cause.

image copyrightOxfam Scotland
image captionThe Scottish government has funded irrigation projects in drought-hit Malawi

The issue of "climate justice" is a big part of the Scottish social policy.

In simple terms, that means supporting the poorer countries of the world whose climate has changed because of fossil fuel consumption in richer countries.

The Scottish government supports schemes in Malawi to help the millions of people facing hunger because of drought.

Head of Oxfam Scotland Jamie Livingstone said: "As a rich developed country, Scotland helped create climate change and we have to now support those who are feeling the full force of climate change on their lives.

"It's essential that we give the money that they need. Our funding levels are fairly small but they're having a significant impact.

Scottish Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham will give a statement to the Scottish Parliament on Thursday afternoon outlining her aims from the conference in Marrakech.

A series of meetings and events have been lined-up with other "states and regions" from across the globe.

She said: "What is important is that we discuss with them some of the things that we've done but equally that applies to me.

"I'm hoping to be able to hear from other countries what their successes have been so that I can learn from them."

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