Responding to the Climate Emergency

Bath and North East Somerset Council’s Climate Emergency Resolution, March 2019

The Council resolved to:

  • declare a climate emergency
  • provide leadership to enable carbon neutral B&NES by 2030
  • enable citizen engagement
  • oppose expansion of Bristol Airport

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Read the council meeting minutes

Timeline:

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March - July 2019

An approach to tackling the Climate Emergency in Bath and North East Somerset was developed and detailed work undertaken to identify and develop the key elements. This included discussions with community groups, other local authorities and bodies that support local authorities, as well as inclusion in the Council’s organisational development programme, to ensure all departments understand that this is a top priority and requires action across all functions and will involve all parts of the community

In July, the Leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, Cllr Dine Romero, led the initiative that resulted in the West of England Combined Authority declaring a climate emergency and carbon neutrality by 2030.

Development of the first Climate Emergency outline action plan began.

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August - September 2019

We reviewed detail on the area’s carbon footprint, pathway options to our 2030 goal, consumption emissions, and income-based citizen carbon footprints.

We developed the first outline action plan and recommendations to identify the priorities for carbon reduction in Bath and North East Somerset, and the first next steps that need to be taken.

This indicated further development is needed, including community conversations and identified areas requiring further research and development.

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October 2019

In October 2019, the Council considered the first progress report since it declared a Climate Emergency, committing to provide the leadership to enable Bath and North East Somerset to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. The Council resolved unanimously to recognise the Council's key leadership role and the significant and fundamental culture shift required, politically and organisationally, to rise to this challenge. Watch the webcast or read the minutes from the Council meeting.

The first phase of research has enabled a clear definition of three immediate priorities for action for the Bath and North East Somerset area and the scale and speed of ambition needed to achieve the 2030 target. In summary these are: 

I. Energy efficiency improvement of the majority of existing buildings (domestic and non-domestic) and zero carbon new build; 

II. A major shift to mass transport, walking and cycling to reduce transport emissions; 

III. A rapid and large-scale increase in local renewable energy generation.

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October 2019 - March 2020

We are establishing a B&NES Climate Emergency, Environment and Place Partnership to provide strategic leadership, enable action plan development and implementation through community partners and stakeholders, and oversee a community engagement programme. 

We are developing an in-house carbon literacy project to build capacity within the council for the integration of climate change into decision making and service planning. This will also enable recognition of the benefits and opportunities of tackling climate change and the contribution to the corporate strategy and other council policies and objectives.

We will be commissioning further research and engaging across different sectors and across the community and we will need your support and participation moving forwards.

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March 2020

An update report for the next stage of work will be brought to the meeting of the Climate Emergency and Sustainability Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel on 16 March 2020. The update report will identify the timescale for reviewing all the Council's existing strategies and plans to re-align them to the Climate Emergency. 

A B&NES Climate Emergency event for the community will be held in the first half of 2020, which will help to shape and develop our action plan going forward. Local residents, businesses, organisations will be able to explore ways to tackle the climate emergency around the three priorities and more.

Individual Action and System Change

Responding to the Climate Emergency requires action across all aspects of society, from intergovernmental agreements, such as the Paris Agreement 2015, to real action by national governments and major corporations to deliver radical system change to stop the primary cause of carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. It is this level of change that will enable individuals, households and local businesses to cut their carbon emissions and achieve zero carbon by 2030. 

Bath and North East Somerset Council will be playing its part not only to provide the leadership to enable change on the ground locally and through the West of England Combined Authority, but also by pressing for change and for the powers and resources needed from central government.

Many residents and local businesses ask us what they can do. Below is a list of relatively simple actions that can be taken. However it must be remembered that, whilst we should all do what we can, these individual actions on their own are not enough and we will be seeking support from the community for the larger system changes that are needed.

Suggested actions:

  1. Avoid food waste; buy local and seasonal food when you can
  2. Avoid palm oil in ultra-processed food and some cleaning products and toiletries
  3. Buy less stuff, make it last; eliminate single use plastics
  4. Get home energy advice via the Council's Energy at Home helpline and see if you can make your home more energy efficient; switch to a green energy supplier
  5. Walk, cycle and use public transport as much as you can; use your car less and take fewer flights
  6. Talk to friends, neighbours and share ideas on what do to; engage with your local school, employer and become active in your community through a local community group, or through your Community Forum or Parish Council helping to work out what your local community could do

Suggested actions for businesses or organisations:

  1. Improve the energy efficiency of your buildings. The West of England’s Green Business Grants Fund helps small and medium size businesses to improve their energy efficiency through capital works and operational equipment.
  2. Switch to a green energy tariff, if available
  3. Implement a sustainable Travel Plan. There is support available and opportunities to either remove the need to travel altogether, use sustainable transport more, and reduce individual occupancy car journeys, for both the daily commute and in-work travel
  4. When placing contracts for products or services, ask your supply chain about how they are responding to the climate emergency
  5. Source local and seasonal food when you can
  6. Have waste management and recycling in place, including food waste collection where possible

Notes:

  • About one third of the food produced worldwide is wasted
  • Palm oil production has been rapidly accelerating and is the main cause of forest destruction. Forests are an important ‘sink’ for carbon dioxide and need to be protected and expanded
  • Making your home energy efficient will make your home more comfortable and will save you money

We will be providing further ideas and advice over the coming months