In terms of clean-tech, Scotland is a busy place, especially owing to the rich potential of renewable resources in the country. 12 out of Scotland’s 14 universities are engaged in clean-tech research and centres of innovation such as the ECCI provide a hub for this research to reach market market and impact the real world. Recently, the ECCI saw the launch of the Green Tech Meetup, an informal gathering of entrepreneurs and investors.
Politically, energy and environment are devolved issues. This means policies are legislated from Holyrood rather than Westminster. Of note, is the 2009 Climate Change Act and the Zero Waste Plan. The Climate Change Act has set a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050, with an interim reduction target of 42% for 2020. The Zero Waste plan set a target of 70% recycling and composting for all waste and a maximum of 5% sent to landfill, both by 2025.
Institutions aside, there are great examples of grass-roots initiatives driving change. Most inspiring, is the story of the Isle of Eigg. After a community land buy-out, the islanders got to setting up their own electricity grid which is 90% powered from renewable sources.
Like anywhere else in the world, there are still significant barriers to achieving a sustainable society. In the past 10 years, investors in the clean-tech space have become more risk averse and the economic crash hasn’t helped either. It’s also becoming clearer the extent to which systematic and behavioural change are also required.
Even if you don’t believe in the ‘techno-fix’ (the idea that technology will save us), it’s hard to argue technology doesn’t shape our behaviour. Consider how much the internet has shaped behaviour in the past ten years. What could happen in the next ten? Taking this into account, it seems as though digital solutions have hardly been put on the menu.
Locally, there is plenty of technical talent to tackle these challenges. The presence of home-grown companies such as Ewgeco, FreeAgent, Skyscanner as well as big names such as Amazon, NCR, and Rockstar show there’s a healthy community of technically skilled people out there. Many of whom are becoming involved in hacking for social good. Very shortly we’ll see hack-days in education and health. Meanwhile, the activities of the local Open Knowledge group are connecting the grass-roots with larger institutions.
Encouraging surroundings for our new Cleanweb group. If you’d like to find out more or get involved join us on the 22nd!