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by Alex Paterson, HES
31 May 2021
Associate feature: Scotland’s historic environment can lead the way to net zero

Associate feature: Scotland’s historic environment can lead the way to net zero

This is a crucial year for climate action. As the world’s attention turns to Scotland while it prepares to take centre stage for the international climate change summit of COP26 in November, at Historic Environment Scotland (HES) we want to seize this opportunity to demonstrate that the historic environment will be fundamental to achieving net-zero.

Our historic environment encompasses our iconic historic attractions, but it’s also the places where we live and work and the infrastructure that keeps our country moving.

With older buildings making up nearly a quarter of our homes, how we maintain and reuse these existing resources will play a key role in reducing carbon emissions and achieving our climate goals.

Repairing, reusing and retrofitting the buildings we already have contributes to a circular economy which offers a sustainable alternative to building new, and one which also supports green jobs; develops traditional skills and materials; and boosts local supply chains.

Reusing what we already have also retains what makes our local places unique. These places, along with our intangible cultural heritage such as stories, songs and traditions, have the power to spark climate action.

They chart the story of how we have adapted to our changing environment over centuries, and can help us understand the transitions that have already occurred as we set our course to achieve net-zero.

Scotland’s rich and vibrant historic built environment has stood the test of time, and we believe it can lead the way in the race to net-zero.

Over the course of this year and in to the future, we will work with local, national and international partners to champion the historic environment and its potential to inspire solutions and provide a source of resilience for communities as we face the climate emergency.

Alex Paterson is chief executive of Historic Environment Scotland.

This article was sponsored by Historic Environment Scotland.

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