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.”

ENDS

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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.

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