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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Council Creates Development Investment Fund to Help Tackle Inequality

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Sheffield City Council’s Cabinet have agreed to change how money collected from the Community Investment Levy (CIL) is invested in local communities, creating a new pot of funding that will be spread fairly across all of Sheffield.

CIL is a tool for local authorities to deliver infrastructure to support improvements in an area. Since the Council began charging CIL in 2015, developers can be liable to pay a charge, or ‘levy’, when building in an area.

15% of this levy goes into a neighbourhood pot. This money is then used to support local infrastructure needs. The money agreed and collected in this portion currently stands at around £1.5 million and the Council wants to invest this to ensure that there is the right infrastructure to support the city’s continued development.

Labour, who has overall control of the Council, started a public consultation about spending the money in a fairer way across the city, to direct funds to the communities where they are actually needed. It was also argued by Labour councillors that land values are lower in many less affluent areas and therefore they receive very little in CIL funds, and sometimes none at all.

The approach agreed by the Council’s Labour Cabinet ensures that every area of the city receives investment, based on a fair and nationally agreed formula.

The Council led consultation ran for five weeks and had hundreds of respondents. There was backing for Labour’s proposal and many commented positively on prioritising areas of Sheffield in the greatest need through the Indices of Multiple Deprivation.

There were some objections to the plans, but in total just 30% disagreed with the new redistribution proposal.

Interestingly, there was significant support in areas like Dore and Totley (57% approval) and Fulwood (75% approval), despite the fact these areas have the highest land values are funds collected through CIL.

Commenting on why Labour is changing how these investments are made, Councillor Jack Scott, Cabinet Member for Development and Transport, said:

“At present wealthy parts of the city receive far more Community Infrastructure Levy, but some of the city’s least affluent areas receive less or nothing at all, because land values are lower. In addition, developers are often not required to pay CIL if they are building in areas of greatest deprivation. This is a sensible way to kick-start much needed development, but it means some areas of our city lose out, whilst the wealthiest parts continue to acquire more, making inequality worse.

“Labour’s new approach will help in our ongoing efforts to tackle inequality so that our whole city can benefit from development, not just a few areas. This is by far the fairest way of investing in communities. You would hope that all opposition councillors would get behind these plans, but frustratingly they are not doing so. Thankfully Labour have a fairer, more prosperous vision for Sheffield”.

 

Councillor Jim Steinke, whose team will manage the Development Investment Fund gave his support for the Cabinet report:

“I am delighted that the public consultation has given us the backing to making these changes. Labour has argued that there is a strong moral, and economic, argument for implementing these changes and I am delighted that Sheffield agrees with us.

“I want to reiterate again that Communities that are directly affected by developments will still get what they deserve – new play equipment, green spaces or measures to tackle increased traffic – but we will be able to assess this need more thoroughly, across the whole city.

“It is a shame opposition councillors aren’t supporting this. The Greens are arguing for keeping the neighbourhood CIL money just for the wards with most development in, many of which just so happen to have Green councillors! For instance in City ward, where a lot of recent development has taken place, Green councillors want to keep the CIL money here rather than spend it where it may be more needed more. This is “pork-barrel” politics of the worst kind!”

“It cannot be right that places like Ringinglow and Totley get hundreds of times more than residents in Halfway and Westfield. This is why Labour sought public opinion and now we have their backing we can implement a funding plan for the whole city”.

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