It was absolutely fascinating to be shown round the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation earlier by the director, Ed Craig. Part of Edinburgh University but working very closely with the Scottish Government and other public sector organisations, like councils, there is nothing else quite like it. ECCI also hosts students to ensure they are close to the research and the opportunities to feed into and influence policy and business.
I was there for nearly two hours and we barely scratched the surface of the work that's going on there on sustainability, climate change preparation, greening the public sector and much more. It was something akin to low carbon speed dating, given the number of great organisations I met in that time.
I spoke with Scottish Carbon Capture and Storage about the huge potential for carbon storage in the former oil fields off the east coast. Not only would this be great news for the planet, it would provide enormous opportunities for high skilled jobs as we make the needed transition from fossil fuels to low carbon industries. They are also working on methods of capturing carbon at source which is produced by industries that we can't do without like concrete manufacturing, to make them cleaner.
Also based there are ClimateXchange, who provide advice and analysis to the Scottish Government on climate change and decarbonisation. And I met the Sustainable Scotland Network who work with councils and other public sector organisations towards targets like the Scotland 2045 emissions and Edinburgh 2030 carbon neutral targets. The charity Sniffer’s focus is on increasing Scotland’s climate change readiness, through the key Adaptation Scotland project for the Scottish Government.
On top of this ECCI works to accelerate the growth of start-up businesses working towards decarbonisation, reducing emissions and the circular economy by giving them cheap work space and by linking them up with Masters and PhD students. IndiNature make 100% reusable (and eventually compostable) building insulation from hemp, which can be cultivated here in Scotland. The cost is similar to conventional materials which contain plastics - but has a much smaller impact on the planet. And WaterWhelm extract renewable energy from what you might think is the very definition of waste - what passes through your toilet.
And to boot, their base is an amazing old building - the former High School of Edinburgh where Walter Scott went to school (you can even see where he scratched his name into wall near the front door) - and now the lowest carbon ancient building in the UK. Thanks to the staff, partner organisations and students. Scotland is a world leader in this - though of course the stakes could not be higher and there's no room for complacency.