The climate crisis is the foremost issue of our time. Global warming is already wrecking havoc in the global south and as if we continue with our current rate of emissions the repercusions for life on earth will be devastating.
The transition away from fossil fuels must be done in a way that protects jobs and ensures workers are treated fairly. Some of the work in the transition will create thousands of jobs, such as bringing buildings up to standard to ensure energy efficiency and sustainable heating sources. It is crucial that the concept of the just transition—a fair worker-led move from fossil to sustainable energy sources—is at the heart of climate discussions.
Edinburgh’s Climate Strategy
The Council’s climate strategy outlines how it will respond to the climate crisis and ensure Edinburgh has ‘net zero’ carbon emissions by 2030.
We are disappointed that within mere three months of the strategy being launched, the Council have already backtracked on their commitment to achieving net zero carbon from social housing by 2030, pushing it back to 2038/39.
Green waste shredders
Green waste shredders can be used on site, reducing the need for workers to drive to one of the councils approved waste contractors on the outskirts of the city. The council pays the contractors to dispose of the green waste—and again pays the same contractors to buy back mulch.
By investing in mobile shredders—around £3,000 for a shredder—the shredded materials can then be put back into the council’s shrub beds as a bio-mulch, thus reducing any potential weeds that may occur. It also reduces the need for harmful chemicals such as the controversial glyphosate-based weedkillers being used. If the site doesn’t require any mulch at all it can then be put on a van, to then be transported to another site.
These bio-mulches also have an aesthetic concept as well. It has been found that areas that have had a mulch applied is better received by member of the public than leaving it uncovered.
The amount of money that will be saved by introducing small shredders into the parks and greenspaces depots will be substantial:
- savings on fuel costs and reduced journeys
- savings on staff time
- not paying contractors for disposal
- less mulch to buy.
Jobs will be done quicker and with these pieces of machinery making things go quicker it will only free up more time for staff to go onto other work, tasks that they may not have had time for.
Retrofitting is the process of making a building energy efficient through various work—insultation, double-glazing, installing an energy-efficient heating system, adding solar panels etc. These measures improve the building’s Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) score and reduce the cost of bills.
The Scottish Government’s energy efficient standard for social housing (EESSH) has set a target that by 2032 all social housing must have an EPC rating of B—or be as energy efficient as possible with the constraints cost, technology and consent. No social housing with a rating lower than D should be let from 2025.
This means the Council have a lot of work ahead of them to bring all housing stock up to D by 2025 and B by 2032. This is an opportunity to create well-paid skilled jobs in the trades required for the retrofitting work to bring buildings up to scratch, such as
- fitting insultation
- installing condensing boilers and storage heaters
- exploring the use of solar panels
and all the additional work that this entails, such as asbestos removal and redecoration.
This is a golden opportunity for the Council to support young people by looking at apprenticeships in such trades and in energy-related jobs such as EPC assessors, that will be vital for the future.
We want to ensure the Council creates jobs in house, rather than relying on costly contractors and agency staff.
Your branch supports, and will work towards the goals of, the STUC’s Our Homes campaign, that calls on the Scottish Government to provide funding to local authorities to
- retrofit publicly-owned buildings
- establish munipal owned energy companies.
Retrofitting videos by the edinburgh trade unions council
Retrofitting: what is it and how can we achieve it? from 27 July 2021
Edinburgh’s retrofitting campaign from 7 December 2021