Report of the Corporate Director of Neighbourhoods and Climate Change, Durham County Council.
The Board received a report of the Corporate Director of Neighbourhoods and Climate Change on the Climate Emergency Response Plan (CERP) and a presentation given by the Principal Officer, Climate Change and Sustainability, Stephen McDonald (for copy see file of minutes).
The Board noted updates against the first iteration for 2020-22 (CERP1) following the Council’s declaration of a climate emergency, and the second iteration for 2022-24 which was recently adopted at Cabinet (CERP2). Members noted there are two new targets which have been introduced in CERP2: a) achieve net zero by 2030 by retaining the CERP1 80 percent actual carbon reduction target for Council emissions by 2030 whilst offsetting or further reducing remaining emissions; and b) net zero by 2045 for countywide emissions, improved from 2050.
It was explained that the COVID-19 pandemic had impacted CERP1 timescales, however significant progress was made in relation to many areas, including: Abbey Leisure Centre; Annfield Plain zero carbon depot; tree planting; and on-street charging initiatives.
The Board were given details of CERP2 and the climate change strategy and projects within CERP2 that had not been within CERP1. It was explained that whilst funding was secured for CERP2, schemes beyond 2024 would be dependent on access to funding and that with tight resources, work must therefore target where the biggest impact could be made.
The Chair noted the positive impact of food refuse cafes and The Bread and Butter Thing hubs preventing usable food going to landfill. He asked as regards whether, when majority of staff were working from home during the pandemic, were there any positive impacts in terms of climate. The Principal Officer, Climate Change and Sustainability noted work with Durham University in terms of the impact of working from home though noted this would be impacted by increasing energy costs and fuel prices. He noted there was an increased interest in working from home and with people investing more in working from home there was a wider impact on climate change.
Councillor T Henderson noted the report referred to ‘we want all sections of the community and business to get involved to help transition to a greener, fairer and healthier society, economy and environment’ and asked how that would be achieved and if there were any consequences for those who were not on board. The Principal Officer, Climate Change and Sustainability noted the Communication and Engagement Plan running over 12 months, with each month looking at a key theme, noting the current theme being electricity and heating. He noted the Corporate Director of Neighbourhoods and Climate Change was holding remote sessions where people could ask questions directly. He added there was increased communications and engagement and noted the Council being committed to retaining the Business Energy Efficiency Project (BEEP) post-EU funding and with new BEEP Zero, helping small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to reduce their emissions. The Principal Officer, Climate Change and Sustainability noted that climate change impacts most on vulnerable people and therefore there was work with transport and housing colleagues in terms of projects, such as providing insulation. The Strategic Manager, Partnerships noted the reference to working with SMEs and asked as regards larger employers in the County, such as the NHS. The Principal Officer, Climate Change and Sustainability noted that the Sustainability and Climate Change Team Leader, Maggie Bosanquet was on the steering group relating to sustainable development in the NHS and work closely with those colleagues. He noted work relating to electric vehicles, such as with the Council’s Care Connect and with vehicles in the Council’s fleet to look for EV to replace old vehicles, where possible, at the end of their lifespan. He added he would be happy to meet with more colleagues to look to improve close working in this regard.
(a) That progress against CERP1 projects which have helped to
achieving 58 percent Council reduction in tCO2e from 2008/9 and
countywide a 54 percent reduction (2019) in tCO2e from 1990 levels be noted.
(b) That the adoption of CERP2 by Cabinet be noted and the Board continue to assist with the delivery of targets, as set out in the report.
(c) That the CERP2 targets would require access to funding from external areas and advances in technology in some areas in order to be fully delivered be noted.