Councillors have unanimously agreed for Warwick District Council to declare a Climate Emergency. Read the all party statement.
The 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 simply not 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 our 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 made a commitment to planting 160,000 trees, one for every citizen in Warwick District by 2023. The 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. 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.
In order to achieve carbon neutrality, we are the first Council in the UK to take part in the United Nations Climate Neutral Now scheme and partner with One Carbon World help deliver this. The scheme will help us measure our carbon footprint and support us on our journey to becoming carbon neutral.
What has been happening so far?
The Members Climate Change Emergency Working Party have been providing strategic direction on the agenda and progress in key areas has been as follows:
- We are the first Council nationally to take part in the UN Climate Neutral Now Scheme, helping us to calculate our baseline emissions and to help in our understanding of how to achieve carbon neutrality.
- We have calculated our carbon emissions baseline. We now know our baseline emissions from buildings, transport and other areas that we are able to monitor for the Council is 2,947.86 tonnes CO2e per year. Also, our total District emissions are 1,060 kt (kiloton) CO2e per year. (CO2e stands for carbon dioxide equivalent and includes other greenhouse gas emissions as well as carbon dioxide).
- We are now bringing together and formalising a Climate Emergency Action Plan and linking this to budget setting in February 2020.
- In November, an Executive Report was approved by Members to outline progress so far with a number of additional recommendations including for the Council to adopt a strategy of divesting from fossil fuels investments and look at our pension funds.
- A great deal of work is happening on the ground to reduce emissions, including a project to encourage our contractors to go carbon neutral, a bike share scheme, internal staff initiatives, a solar farm, development of a Climate Change Supplementary Planning Document and a project to deliver low carbon retrofit social properties and new build low carbon properties. We have also applied for funding from DEFRA and the Commonwealth Games bid for electric buses, bikes and a bike share scheme.
- During National Tree Week in November, our first tree was planted in Jephson Gardens. The Coruns Kousa Chinensis tree is an ornamental species and is drought tolerant, frost hardy and great for encouraging and supporting insects.