‘Transformational approach’ promised by Historic Environment Scotland in the fight against climate change


21 February 2020
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A new climate change plan revealed today (21 February) by Historic Environment Scotland sets out its commitment to protecting over 5,000 years of Scotland’s history through a ‘transformation approach’ to its operations.

With the unprecedented rate of climate change one of the fastest-growing threats to the survival of cultural heritage and historic sites worldwide, the plan details how Historic Environment Scotland (HES) will expand and develop its Climate Change Risk Assessment, a report on the climate change impacts on the historic sites in the care of HES which was published in 2018.

What are the aims of the plan?

HEA explains it will continue to prioritise investment in research and technology to better understand the physical, social and economic impacts of climate change on the historic environment, and lead innovation in the monitoring and management of historic assets.

While the climate crisis has placed historic sites on the frontline, HES’s new Climate Action Plan also demonstrates how the historic environment can support Scotland’s transition to a low carbon future and make a positive contribution to the lives of communities across the country.

As well as setting out proposals for significant reductions in emissions associated with its own operations, the plan also commits the organisation to lead the way in promoting the energy efficiency of historic buildings, which make up around 20% of the country’s housing stock.

HES will also continue to champion the contribution of traditional construction skills, methods and materials to a sustainable economy.

‘In the midst of crisis’

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop joined HES to launch the Climate Action Plan at Tantallon Castle, one of the coastal heritage sites under threat from climate change which HES is highlighting during the Year of Coasts and Waters. 

Ewan Hyslop, Head of Technical Research & Science at HES, said: ‘We are in the midst of a global climate crisis, and Scotland’s historic sites are already feeling its impacts.

‘We need to take significant and urgent action now to protect our past for the future, and this new plan sets out how we will build on our previous success in areas such as energy efficiency, emissions reduction and impact assessment, and encompass broader actions around areas such a sustainable procurement, circular economy and biodiversity.

‘We can’t face the climate crisis and its impact on the historic environment alone, and the plan outlines how we will work collaboratively with others locally, nationally and internationally to pool expertise and share knowledge.

‘Through innovation in areas such as research, training and education, and by supporting new approaches to sustainable travel and tourism, we will place Scotland and our historic environment at the forefront of the global movement to tackle climate change.’

Climate Action Plan seven themes

The Climate Action Plan sets out HES’s climate change commitments for the next five years and beyond, outlining 78 actions across seven themes:

  • climate impacts and adaptation
  • energy and carbon management
  • circular economy
  • sustainable tourism
  • sustainable procurement
  • biodiversity and landscapes
  • sustainable travel

The seven themes are underpinned by four key strands of activity that will be used to drive change. These are:

* training and education

* innovation and technology

* partnerships

* people

Read the new Climate Action Plan here.

QUICK LINK: Exclusive History Scotland read - Clearances history

(image copyright Historic Environment Scotland)