Labour Councillors declare a climate emergency and bring forward target for Sheffield becoming carbon neutral

Sheffield Labour Councillors have set out plans to bring forward the target for making Sheffield a carbon neutral city. Currently the Council’s target is to make Sheffield carbon neural by 2050, a target which was initially seen as very ambitious.

However, following a recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which detailed the catastrophic consequences of global warming above 1.5c, Labour councillors are now declaring that we are facing a “climate emergency” and as such have called for the most ambitious plan possible to ensure Sheffield is doing everything possible to tackle dangerous manmade climate change.

Declaring a “Climate Emergency” is a growing trend across the world, with more cities making this decisive announcement to highlight the threat of climate change and the importance of taking real action to avoid its catastrophic effects.

Sheffield is now the largest city in the UK to declare a Climate Emergency.

Sheffield City Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport and Development Jack Scott:

“It’s not an exaggeration to say that the future of the human race relies on us taking bold action on climate change, so I am delighted that Sheffield is boldly leading the way here. It is absolutely right that we declare an urgent climate emergency and put pressure on the government and other cities to recognise the dire situation we are facing.

“But we are proposing far more than just calling on others to act. Labour want to ensure that as a council and as a whole city we are doing everything we can to limit reduce carbon emissions and limit manmade climate change.

“Global warming is one of the most serious issues of the 21st century. We are facing a climate catastrophe if we don’t act. But as the IPCC report makes crystal clear – the time to act is still now. We are not too late – yet. I don’t want people to feel a hopeless inevitability about climate change. We all have the power to do our bit to reduce Sheffield’s carbon emissions.

“The council already has a plan to become carbon neutral by 2050 and while this is excellent, Labour wants to be more ambitious still. This is why we will be working with partners across the city to look at how we can bring this target forward by years, if not decades. I also want other Political Parties to help with this, which is why I’m asking for opposition Councillors to feed into this through the council’s scrutiny process”.

Welcoming this move Jenny Carpenter (Co-chair of Sheffield Climate Alliance) said:

“We are delighted that Sheffield City Council has listened to us and is now looking to take the bold step of announcing a Climate Emergency. We can all be proud that Sheffield is now the largest council to move forward in this way. We urge all Councillors to vote in favour of this important declaration and send a clear signal about the importance of tackling climate change.

“It’s positive that the Council is also aiming to bring forward the target date for becoming a carbon neutral city. Sheffield Climate Alliance is keen to work with the Council on this to make sure we have a more ambitious target and then develop a really good action plan to ensure we achieve it.”


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Note to editors

Labour Group Motion for Full Council – 06 February 2019 –

Declaring a Climate Emergency

Proposed by Councillor Jack Scott
Seconded by Councillor Michelle Cook

That this Council:-

(a) believes that climate change and sustainability are amongst the biggest issues of the 21st century and the effects of manmade and dangerous climate change are already manifestly occurring;

(b) notes that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) detail that we are already seeing the consequences of a 1°C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other worrying changes;

(c) notes that this Administration has previously categorised climate change as the biggest social justice issue of this century which requires bold, radical action, and last year implemented the Green City Strategy – setting the goal of becoming a zero carbon city by 2050, showing our city’s commitment towards making our contribution towards the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement;

(d) recognises the critical role that cities have to play in delivering a zero carbon future and that whilst the present Government have, in this Council’s opinion, been woefully inadequate at rising to the scale of the climate change challenge, city leaders can take innovative solutions to address many of the causes and impact of climate change on a systemic level;

(e) recalls that the city has already undertaken a number of innovative and bold initiatives that are aimed at reducing our impact on the climate and reducing our city’s carbon emissions, but recognises that limiting global warming cannot be achieved by a single organisation or a technological silver bullet, and requires changes to how we all live, work and play and believes every citizen has a role to play in securing a climate safe future;

(f) further notes that, in recognition of this, the Administration established a Green City Partnership Board, with representation from key city stakeholders including our universities, the private sector and community and voluntary organisations, including the Sheffield Climate Alliance, with the agreed purpose of ensuring that Sheffield can achieve the Green City Strategy objectives and deliver a low carbon, resilient and sustainable city;

(g) notes that, over the period 2013/14 to 2016/17, the Council has reduced its annual CO2 emissions by 19%, and that this Administration has also initiated schemes to reduce carbon emissions throughout the city, such as:-

(i) as a landlord with over 40,000 homes, Sheffield City Council has invested in improving the fabric and insulation of our homes and installed high-efficiency gas central heating boilers in the majority of homes, and as a result, our homes have increased their SAP11 (Standard Assessment Procedure) energy rating from 64 out of 100 in 2005 to 71 in 2016-17;

(ii) use of hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles as part of its vehicle fleet since 2017, noting that the vehicles use the wind powered mini-grid hydrogen refuelling station at the Advanced Manufacturing Park;

(iii) continued development of the district heat network, turning local waste into electricity and heat for the city, with up to 45MW of heat produced and supplied to over 140 buildings connected to the District Energy Network; in addition, the facility generates up to 21 MW of electricity to the National Grid, which is enough to power 25,000 homes;

(iv) using new technology where available, including 66,800 new LED streetlights;

(v) our Ethical Procurement approach ensures that the Council’s suppliers do everything they can to reduce their carbon footprint;

(vi) as well as reducing carbon, we are committed to improving the city’s air – we are looking at implementing a Clean Air Zone in the city centre, tackling the most polluting vehicles, and we are the first large city to introduce anti-idling measures to stop people leaving their engines running outside schools; and

(vii) our transport strategy is seeking to make sustainable modes of transport the number one choice for people in Sheffield;

(h) notes that the IPCC report identifies cities as one of four critical global systems that can accelerate and upscale climate action, but recognises this will require major transitions in how both mitigation and adaptation are undertaken and, therefore, we need to consider the opportunities the city has to deliver on a revised commitment, as there is only a limited advantage to be gained in setting a target without clear deliverable actions that will enable us as a city to achieve this;

(i) believes that, as a city, we have made considerable progress in carbon reduction but we need to go further still in light of the IPCC’s special report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, published in October 2018, which confirmed the catastrophic consequences of manmade climate change and urgent need to act;

(j) therefore declares unequivocally that our city, country and planet are facing a CLIMATE EMERGENCY;

(k) notes that as a result of this call for action, the Green City Partnership Board will be exploring how Sheffield should respond to the IPCC report, both in terms of actions as well as reviewing our existing commitment to become a zero carbon city by 2050; and

(l) supports this Administration’s commitment to report back to Full Council within 6 months, with a more ambitious date for the city to become zero carbon, accompanied by an action plan setting out the required work to deliver a new goal through all relevant strategies and plans, and would entirely and actively welcome the involvement of the cross-party scrutiny system in shaping and overseeing this vital work.

Star Cabinet Profile Piece – “My mission in life is to make Sheffield the best it can be”

Jack-2-59 pm 2 tea - croppedCabinet Member for Development & Transport: “My mission in life is to make Sheffield the best it can be”
“I couldn’t be a priest so I became a Councillor,” said Councillor Jack Scott, cabinet member for transport and development at Sheffield City Council. “I always wanted to live a life of service and politics is a powerful way you can make the world a better place.”
Councillor Scott has boundless energy.
Councillor Scott has boundless energy. In a cafe in the Millennium Gallery he chats enthusiastically about climate change, trams, equality, family, the Peak District and how Sheffield is ‘the greatest city in the world’.
He leads on a wide range of issues in transport and development including creating more affordable homes, HS2, fracking, ensuring our rivers are ready to face climate change in 100 summer’s time and, most recently, plans for a controversial pollution charge.
Councillor Scott’s drive to become a politician came partly from experiencing inequality at a young age.He said: “We grew up in a council house in Northamptonshire. There was never any money and my mum got income support, which doesn’t exist anymore but that was all we had.

“I was the only child in my year to get a scholarship to our local private school which was very posh and tens of thousands of pounds. There was no way we could have ever afforded it but I was quite smart.

“The impact inequality has on people and how unfair things can be always really struck me. There were big Jaguars and Range Rovers coming up the drive to the quad and then us in our 20-year-old Volvo, and kids would say things. So I became quite competitive and driven.

“I would see people not working any harder than my mum was, in some cases working a lot less, and yet had a whole range of opportunities and breaks that we never had as a family.”

He joined the Labour Party at 16 and was ‘so radical, it made Jeremy Corbyn look quite moderate’.

After leaving school, he studied politics at the University of Sheffield at which point he started to ‘seriously consider’ becoming a Catholic priest. But after falling in love with his now wife, Councillor Scott re-evaluated and decided to run in his local elections in Arbourthorne.

He said: “It never occurred to me to go and earn a load of money in the private sector, in my professional life I’ve worked for a load of different charities as well. That’s always been what’s motivated me.

“I came to Sheffield in 2004, and on about my third day I decided I was going to live the rest of my life here. I think it’s amazing, the blend of things in Sheffield makes it so special and unique.”

Councillor Scott is a ‘well shuffled card’, having taken on cabinet roles for environment, recycling and streetscene, community services, transport and sustainability, and now development and transport in the space of six years.

“It’s great, because I’ve got to learn lots of different things about everything,” he said. “I really believe that when you look around this city you can see the impact the council has made for good.

“The libraries, museums, parks, outdoor spaces, schools and roads are there because they were delivered by a Labour council who got why they were important. That’s what I hold onto as my guiding star. My mission in life is to make Sheffield the best it can be and there is nothing I would rather be doing.” With his most recent portfolio, Councillor Scott’s five key focuses are: new homes, transport, development, climate change and air quality.

He recently worked on plans to distribute contested development money, from the Community Infrastructure Levy, to the most deprived areas of the city, which angered some opposition Councillors.

Councillor Scott is also passionate about tackling climate change and at a recent Star Cabinet event described it as the “biggest threat we have ever faced as a species” and branded it “as big a threat in the twenty-first century as war was in the twentieth.”

To tackle this, Councillor Scott has taken bold actions to reduce carbon including plans for a pollution charge in the city centre of up to £50 a day on buses, taxis, vans and lorries and a new fleet of green buses.

He said: “Increasingly, people are seeing the impact of climate change, we had one of the hottest summers ever, and there is going to be more intense and frequent weather patterns.

“In Sheffield the biggest impact we’ll have is flooding, so we are working on plans to make sure our rivers are ready, not just for next summer but, for 100 summer’s time. It’s quite exciting to be thinking about, some of these things probably won’t be built until I’m in the ground.”

Councillor Scott lives in the North West of the city with his two young daughters, Abigail and Lucy, and wife, Jenny.

The little time he has away from council duties, is spent with his family or running or cycling in the Peak District.

“Sheffield is the best place in the country to raise a family, there are always things going on for children.

“Council work is relentless, it’s a marathon rather than a sprint but you have to have the energy to be able to function in that way.

“The ability to decompress, unwind and just breathe is really important. Especially being on cabinet and having two young children. There are times when it’s really stressful and difficult but you just have to remember you have family and friends who will support you.”

Going forward, Councillor Scott aims to keep improving and promoting the city.

He said: “We need to shout more about Sheffield as a city and punch above our weight. The number of people who come to the city and stay, I sometimes think it’s a bit of a hidden gem. It has got a really great balance between being enterprising and dynamic and caring for everyone, which is like an elixir. We are a city that has huge potential and is really going places.”

The Star has been publishing profile pieces on each Cabinet Member at the Council. The online original is here

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