Can Suffolk become carbon-neutral?
PUBLISHED: 11:31 09 July 2020 | UPDATED: 11:31 09 July 2020
A catalogue of measures to make Suffolk County Council more environmentally friendly have been unveiled.
The authority’s cabinet is next week due to sign-off on detailed proposals put forward by a task force convened last year as part of a pledge by the authority to become carbon-neutral by 2030.
MORE: Suffolk County Council declares climate emergency
Some of the measures include:
• Move to purchase 100% renewable energy for council buildings
• Provide advice for academies and free schools to develop net-zero emissions plans
• Replace vehicle fleet with fully electric alternatives by 2025
• Pull together an investment programme for renewable energy on county farms estate
• Zero emissions consideration for all future decision making
• Home working and travel guidance for staff and councillors to reduce travel
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• Publish a cross-council action plan by the end of 2020
Councillor Richard Rout, Conservative cabinet member for environment, said: “If approved, this will be an unprecedented moment in the council’s history, as we will bring in changes which will have a positive impact on our environment and leave a legacy for future generations of Suffolk.
“Suffolk has been moving in the right direction having seen carbon emission reductions of 41% since 1990. But now is the time to move up through the gears and do even better.
“The recommendations which are being put forward will help us towards our 2030 target.
“The impact of climate change is an issue which involves everyone and affects everyone. With the approval of these plans, the council will lead by example. We will inspire other businesses to see what can be achieved, to show that change can, and must, happen.”
The authority last year declared a climate emergency in recognition of the issue, with the task force’s findings forming the basis of a plan to progress with measures.
Councillor Elfrede Brambley-Crawshaw, leader of the council’s Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent group, said: “Climate change is an emergency and it is vital that we treat it as such.
“These recommendations are a clear statement of intent and show that Suffolk County Council is committed to the 2030 carbon-neutral target we set last year.
“However, I am concerned that these recommendations do not include the work of the Suffolk Climate Change Partnership, which is a body of work being undertaken across all councils in Suffolk and was endorsed by the policy development panel task group.
“The council needs to bring this work into the public domain. There is much more that we, as a local authority, need to be doing: we need to change our transport policy so that buses, walking and cycling are prioritised over road building; we need to remove our investments from fossil fuel companies; we need to ensure that every single decision made by officers and councillors takes into account the need to drastically reduce carbon emissions; and we need to remove any secrecy from policy making, which would both reassure the public where good work is being done and enable the public to hold the council to account.”
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