The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, which has become a net zero carbon organisation more than a decade before many councils aim to, is to bolster its reputation as a national leader in tackling climate change by setting more ambitious goals.
The authority looks set to join scores of local authorities in declaring a ‘climate emergency’ ,despite having been measuring its own greenhouse gas emissions since 2005 and reducing our its net greenhouse gas emissions by more than 130 per cent over that time.
Most neighbouring councils have in recent months declared a ‘climate emergency’, requiring them to take urgent action and make their activities net zero carbon by 2030.
While councils such as North Yorkshire and Richmondshire are developing proposals, a meeting of the authority for the 2,179sq km park next week will hear it has already funded projects that had removed around 500,000kg of carbon dioxide equivalent per year from the atmosphere since producing 716,788kg in 2005.
It has achieved the reduction through schemes such as ranging from installing ground source heat pumps, biomass boilers and solar panels to recruiting volunteers locally to reduce travel distances.
To support reductions across the park it has helped found the Yorkshire Peat Partnership, supported the Dales Woodland Restoration Programme and co-funded the installation of three hydro-power developments.
However, it is understood a number of the authority’s members are determined to see a number of fresh environmental ambitions as it no longer has a specific objective to reduce greenhouse emissions and there are no initiatives planned.
The authority’s previous target of a 55 per cent reduction compared to 2010 – was achieved in March 2015 and members have been warned the emissions that are left will be more difficult and more expensive to tackle.
Options that will be considered in the coming months include installing more renewable energy in its buildings, improving the fuel efficiency of its vehicles, reducing car journeys, reducing volunteer mileage and probably the number of volunteers and more direct funding of activity that absorbs carbon from the atmosphere.
Gary Smith, the authority’s director of conservation and community, has recommended members agree a new plan for further reductions in its own emissions, taking the authority “well beyond ‘net zero’”, and also take advantage of the rekindling of wider enthusiasm for tackling climate change to work with councils and other partners to deliver on the authority’s green ambitions.
He said: “The threat of climate change is real. The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicated that we have 12 years to act to avoid warming of more than 1.5C and thus avoid a major tipping point in terms of climate change.
“The authority can be justifiably proud of its track record in both reducing its own emissions, and in helping to set up and co-fund local partnerships that have delivered significant benefits across the national park.”