Richmondshire District Council, which has faced criticism over the speed of its work to become more environmentally-friendly, has agreed to adopt a councillor’s carbon cutting blueprint as the basis for its climate change action plan.
The council’s climate change working group unanimously agreed to use a 26-page document written by Green and Independent Group councillor Leslie Rowe to progress its environmental ambitions.
The move comes 15 months after the council committed to “urgent action” to make the council’s own activities net-zero carbon by 2030, have 100 per cent clean energy across the authority’s full range of functions by 2030 and support all other relevant agencies to ensure the whole of Richmondshire achieves net-zero carbon within the same timescale.
Carbon cutting measures outlined by Cllr Rowe include targeting the use of energy for heat, light and power. Estimates from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research indicate that 410,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases were produced last year as a result of domestic energy use in Richmondshire.
His proposal calls for the council to take measures such as improving energy use in buildings and move to a 100 per cent renewable electricity and gas supplies for all council operations within two years. It also calls on the council to work with local partnerships for climate improvement, to ensure that community and civic organisations receive the backing and resources they need to lead on change and make carbon negative investments.
After the meeting, the group’s chairman, Councillor Philip Wicks said he shared some members frustration over the lack of climate change progress, but the pandemic and issues recruiting a climate change officer had hampered the authority’s progress.
He said with an officer due to start work before Christmas he expected action to cut carbon would move forward at pace.
Cllr Rowe said there remained a number of gaps in the council’s climate change policies, notably a lack of base data on carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions, which the new officer would help rectify.
He added: “It is not the responsibility of the Richmondshire climate change officer to reduce carbon emissions, it is the responsibility of all of us, councillors, officers and all citizens of Richmondshire. This is just one small step in that direction.”