Climate Emergency and Carbon Neutral Gold and International Standard Award
Councillor Miles Parkinson OBE, Leader of the Council, reported that the Council was nearing completion of a Carbon Footprint exercise, through which a Carbon Neutral Gold and International Standard had been awarded and that it was participating in the United Nations Carbon Neutral Now initiative. These were significant steps in the Council’s Climate Emergency action planning.
Councillor Glen Harrison, Chair of the Environment and Climate Change Members working Group, highlighted key issues in relation to the report. Before becoming an elected Member, Councillor Harrison had held a keen interest in environmental issues, such as plastic tides and extreme weather problems.
The report represented a very positive statement in an uncertain world. It was notable that during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, anecdotal evidence showed that the planet was able to repair itself.
The latest work in Hyndburn had followed the declaration of a Climate Emergency motion put by Councillor Harrison and agreed by the Council in September 2019. The intention was for Hyndburn to be net carbon neutral in its core activities by 2030. To this end, external commissioners had produced a carbon footprint report, which had led to the awards identified in the report. The Council was the first in the UK to participate in both initiatives.
An action plan would be developed and several actions had already been progressed, which were detailed in the report. Further proposals would be brought back to the Cabinet as they were developed.
Councillor Harrison thanked the Chief Executive, David Welsby and all others involved in the programme.
The Leader of the Council acknowledged the hard work of staff and expressed his delight at Hyndburn being the first council to achieve this status. The Council had already committed a budget to climate change initiatives before Coronavirus had surfaced as the main priority. However, the environment would remain high on the agenda after the virus had subsided. Businesses and residents would also be encouraged to be greener, to make the world a better place for all.
Councillor Haworth commented that the programme was a wonderful initiative and commended Councillor Harrison for his work on this. It was vital to provide a decent place to live for future generations.
Approval of the report was not a key decision.
Reason for Decision
The Council had declared a Climate Emergency in September 2019 and had also completed a Green Review in the same year, together identifying a range of actions with a headline target to achieve net-zero carbon in Council activities by 2030 and to produce a measured baseline.
A Carbon Footprint report had been commissioned to identify the baseline figure of CO2e (equivalent) emissions, through independent analysis of Council data for the year 2018/19 (April 2018 to March 2019). Prepared by One Carbon World, this was part of the Carbon Neutral Gold and International Standards and UN Climate Neutral Now initiatives.
The Council was the first in the UK to participate in both initiatives.
Using carbon management principles of Measure, Reduce, Offset, the UN Climate Neutral Now initiative invited organisations, governments and citizens to work towards global climate neutrality by addressing their climate footprint through a 3-step method:-
- Measure their greenhouse gas emissions. also called the carbon footprint;
- Reduce them as much as possible through their own actions; and
- Offset (compensate) those which could not be currently avoided by using UN certified emission reductions.
The Carbon Footprint report followed a robust methodology to analyse carbon emissions, impact of different fuels, energy sources and activities. Detailed results would be discussed at a future Cabinet meeting covering the operations of the Council, together with the sports facilities operated by the Leisure Trust, measuring emissions arising from energy, fuel, business travel and waste.
Reducing the net carbon footprint would require priority to be given to the areas of highest emissions as part of a comprehensive Climate Emergency action plan, including:-
- Detailed energy audits of key buildings and review of options to reduce energy use, natural gas in particular, such as more efficient insulation methods, improved heating and lighting systems, and exploration of alternative/renewable energy sources for heating such as air source heat pumps (ASHPs) ground source heat pumps (GSHPs), solar thermal, Solar PV and others.
- A Public Sector Decarbonisation Fund had recently been announced which could be an opportunity to source technical expertise as well as capital grants for appropriate installations. Discussions had been initiated with APSE Energy, an advisory service dedicated to the public sector.
- Reviewing opportunities to reduce the carbon impacts from the Council’s vehicle fleet, including external assistance through the Energy Saving Trust
- Developing programmes of natural environment measures to balance emissions as well as deliver opportunities for high quality environments and local involvement.
The Council had continued to progress several key actions towards the goal of net zero carbon, such as those actions in recent months, as follows:-
- electricity for a portfolio of key buildings was now sourced from 100% green energy;
- zero carbon emission electric lifters on refuse vehicles;
- working with environmental organisations on a Lancashire Woodland campaign, woodland creation and other habitat enhancement locally; and
- supporting the greening of the taxi fleet.
Alternative Options considered and Reasons for Rejection
In-house preparation of a carbon footprint. Data had been assembled in-house by staff from several services, but the Council did not currently have staff capacity to analyse and report on the CO2e emissions implications. Also, an externally produced carbon footprint offered independence and transparency and scope for monitoring progress on-going.
Resolved (1) That Cabinet welcomes the Carbon Neutral Gold and International Standard award reflecting the Council’s participation in the One Carbon World Carbon Footprint and United Nations Climate Neutral Now initiatives.
(2) That Cabinet continues to develop a progressive programme of carbon reduction measures plus a range of beneficial measures to balance any remaining impacts, with proposals being brought forward to future Cabinet meetings.
(3) That Cabinet recognises that significant actions have continued to be progressed, notwithstanding the additional challenges of recent months.