Council commits to take action to become carbon neutral

23 January 2020

Cheshire West and Chester Council committed on Tuesday evening (21 January) to take rapid action to tackle the Climate Emergency and support the borough as a whole to achieve carbon neutrality.

Following a cross-party agreement in May 2019 declaring that the borough was facing a Climate Emergency and action needed to be taken, Cllr Matt Bryan, Chairman of the Council’s Climate Emergency Taskforce, presented a report at a full Council meeting. The report summarises the in-depth research and discussion that has taken place over the last eight months with partners, local businesses, communities and environmental experts.

The findings show that west Cheshire is an area with one of the highest carbon footprints in the UK due to its unique industrial base. This creates additional responsibility for action and also presents an opportunity for businesses to be innovative and make significant contributions to the reduction of CO2e emissions in the borough and for the UK as a whole.

The research conducted by environmental consultants, Anthesis, show that the scale of the challenge and the changes that are needed to become carbon neutral by 2045, as set out in the Council’s original declaration, is significant. Using an emissions modelling tool, Anthesis reviewed the impact of forty interventions at four ambition levels on the area’s emissions, in order to determine the scale of change necessary. From this a series of changes were considered across both energy supply and demand to get to carbon neutrality.  The most ambitious level of change, level four, would require measures such as:
  • retrofitting 7,000 homes with energy saving measures such as solid wall insulation and loft insulation by 2025
  • installing, 43,000 new, efficient heat systems in homes, such as heat pumps, in the next six years
  • reducing the miles travelled by car by people in the borough by 25 per cent by 2025
  • increasing solar power capacity tenfold in the next six years
  • planting 150 hectares of new forests per year.
The scale of change required to become carbon neutral by 2045 would represent a whole-society shift to address the causes of climate change, with environmental issues being considered as the top priority at all levels. It is not something that the Council can deliver in isolation and it will need businesses, partners and communities to prioritise the Climate Emergency in everything they do. 

The Council has agreed to set an ambitious target to become carbon neutral by 2030 and is committed to evidencing leadership through its own carbon reduction efforts. This work will build on the Council’s previous Carbon Management Plan which saw the Council reduce its carbon emissions by 48 per cent between 2016 and 2019. Over performing the original target set by 18 per cent during this period.

Councillor Louise Gittins, Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council said: “It is clear from Tuesday's meeting that there is a passion in our borough to take action to address the Climate Emergency and a commitment to become carbon neutral. We know that to reach this ambitious target will require significant contributions from our businesses, partners and residents. I’d like to thank everyone who has already worked with us to make suggestions to help us find a way forward to tackle this important issue and we will continue to welcome the input of these groups as we develop our Climate Emergency response plan. 

“As a Council we aim to lead by example, by taking measures to make the Council as an organisation carbon neutral by 2030, but we will also be looking to central Government for comprehensive support in regard to both resources and an ambitious legislative and policy framework for carbon reduction.”

Councillor Margaret Parker, Conservative opposition group leader said: “We have the opportunity to make big changes in our borough which will help and protect our local environment, the health and wellbeing of our residents and the world as a whole. With our large industrial base the borough has a responsibility to make a significant contribution to the nation’s carbon reduction objectives which will help limit the effects of climate change worldwide.

“The report is clear that action needs to happen now, before it is too late. We have set a target date for the borough to become carbon neutral by 2045 but every day is a deadline and we must all make changes at every opportunity to reduce the areas emissions. As a Council we will review our own policies to ensure the Climate Emergency is addressed at every opportunity and we will continue to work with our businesses and communities to support them to make the changes needed to reduce their carbon emissions.”

A Climate Emergency Taskforce, made up of cross-party councillors, has reviewed all the evidence gathered and will develop a Climate Emergency Response Plan, to be presented to Council in December 2020. Visit the Council’s Climate Emergency webpage for further details about the monthly Taskforce meetings and to sign up to the Council’s Climate Emergency enewsletter.

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