On one of the hottest days on record last summer I presented a motion to Full Council urging members to declare a climate emergency and commit to reducing the council’s carbon use to net-zero by 2030.
What followed was quite unusual – every single member in the chamber, regardless of which colour rosette they wear, supported it. If you watch our Full Council meetings live on Facebook, you will know this happens once in a blue moon.
As I said that night, we discuss many important items in the council chamber, but none of them matter if we have no planet to live on.
At a cabinet meeting on Monday members will consider a plan which sets out how the council will start to work towards becoming carbon neutral.
The Carbon Management Action Plan includes a top 20 pledges, which includes replacing the mayor’s car with an ultra-low emissions vehicle, considering leasing additional office space to reduce energy demands and investigating whether we could dim street lighting further. It also commits to reviewing the council’s electricity and gas contracts and moving towards 100 per cent renewable energy tariffs and 100 per cent carbon off-set gas tariffs.
There is lots that we are doing already – many of our schools have solar panels and rain water harvesters, we’re dimming street lights to reduce energy use and building more homes in the city so that people are less reliant on cars and more likely to use public transport. However, the action plan is our first major step in delivering our commitment to achieving net-zero carbon emissions.
Cabinet members will be asked to endorse the plan and it will then go before Full Council on 4 March for final sign off. We are planning for this day to be designated ‘climate action day’ when we encourage staff and residents to do their ‘extra bit’ to reduce their carbon impact on that day. It is hoped that if someone reduces their impact on one day, then they might be persuaded to do it more frequently.
I have solar panels on my roof to heat water which has reduced our energy use and bills – I’ve got loft insulation and cavity wall insulation too for the same reasons. We recycle as much as we can and have reduced the amount of waste we produce.
In the words of a well–known supermarket chain, every little helps. The action that we can take individually and as a city can make a difference and it also sends out a clear message that we must all change our ways. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to do so. (more…)