Councillors have unanimously agreed for Warwick District Council to declare a Climate Emergency. Read the all party statement.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) advise in their report that we have until 2030 to take urgent action on climate change in order to keep the earth's rising temperature below 1.5 degree Celsius. This means the current global target to cut carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 is unlikely to be enough to avoid a catastrophic change in our climate. Business as usual is no longer an option, and Warwick District Council have recognised this by declaring a Climate Emergency.
What does it mean to declare a 'Climate Emergency'?
Declaring a Climate Emergency makes it a requirement to take immediate action to drastically reduce carbon emissions. This means the Council is now accountable for delivering the requirements of its Climate Emergency Declaration.
The commitments of the declaration are as follows:
- Being a carbon-neutral organisation by 2025, including with all contracted out services.
- Facilitating decarbonisation by local businesses, organisations and residents, in order for Warwick District to be as close to zero by 2030 as possible.
- Working with other local councils to lobby the central government to provide funding and change regulations to ensure the commitments can be adequately addressed.
- Engaging with and listening to all relevant stakeholders, including the members of Warwickshire Youth Parliament, regarding approaches to tackling the climate emergency.
- Ensuring that tackling the Climate Emergency, in terms of adaption and mitigation, is central to the strategic business plan.
- Producing, by November 2019, an action plan to implement these commitments. Councillor Alan Rhead as the portfolio holder for Environment and Business, has formed a group with shadow portfolio holders for this purpose.
How are we becoming carbon-neutral?
We have adopted a short-term action programme to give momentum to the ambition of becoming carbon-neutral. This action plan sets out what we are already doing to reduce energy consumption in our buildings, to generate low carbon energy in the District, to encourage sustainable and active transport in the District, and to support our residents in reducing energy consumption in homes.
However, this Action Plan is just the start. We are working to establish a substantial Climate Action Fund to support our future ambitions. We are also listening to residents and looking at local data to make sure our future plans help us all progress as quickly as possible. Our plans aim to reduce the amount of carbon arising from the district, as well as offsetting (or capturing) carbon where we can.
This process of becoming 'net-zero' or also known as carbon-neutral, involves balancing the carbon we emit and take in through offsetting. Offsetting means compensating and funding projects to balance out carbon emissions, this can be as simple as planting trees. We have made a commitment to planting 160,000 trees, one for every citizen in Warwick District, by 2030. As well as helping to absorb carbon emissions, trees help to enhance biodiversity, are a great away to absorb emissions from the air and provide areas of cooling and shading during hot weather spells. We are committed to reducing our carbon emissions as much as possible, but doing this will be costly, and some schemes may take years to deliver. Therefore, some offsetting is currently required for the Council to meet its commitments.