In September 2019, the Council joined a growing number of Councils that made a commitment to taking urgent action to address Climate Change and aim to become Carbon Neutral by 2030. It was agreed that an Action Plan would be produced specifying how the target will be achieved within 6 months of the commitment.
This report presents the draft Climate Change and Sustainability Strategy (Annexe 1) and the draft Climate Emergency Action Plan (Annexe 2) bringing together input from all Council services. The Strategy outlines Waverley’s strategic commitment to addressing the causes and impact of Climate Change as well as wider sustainability. The Action Plan sets out the specific measures that will be taken in order to achieve the Council’s commitment. It will be a living document, the actions within it will evolve and change throughout its life as new budgets and external funding opportunities become available and changes in technology take place to permit further work to be carried out.
It is recommended that the Executive:
a. Notes the draft Climate Change and Sustainability Strategy 2020-2030 at Annexe 1.
b. Welcomes the work carried out so far on the development of the Climate Emergency Action Plan and notes its content, attached in Annexe 2.
c. Recognises the need for further work to define SMART targets that will be measurable and tangible and request that officers present those in September 2020.
d. Invites the Environment O&S Committee to contribute to the further development of the draft Strategy and the draft Action Plan.
71.1 Cllr Steve Williams, Portfolio Holder for Environment & Sustainability presented the Climate Change & Sustainability Strategy and the Climate Emergency Action Plan to the Executive:
71.2 The Climate Change & Sustainability Strategy reaffirmed the Council’s commitment to becoming carbon neutral by 2030, and a commitment to building resilience to the impacts of climate change. But, unless others across the world took the climate emergency seriously, then the most robust resilience measures taken by Waverley would be ineffective. Currently, 287 out of 408 UK district, county , unitary and metropolitan authorities had declared a climate emergency, and most – like Waverley – had set 2030 as the target date to achieve net zero carbon emissions in recognition of the urgency of the task.
71.3 The Council had never before declared an emergency, and the commitment to becoming carbon neutral would affect everything that the Council would do. It was not just about the £300,000 that had been allocated for direct expenditure to deal with the climate emergency and the action plan; it was that in every action and decision going forward, the carbon footprint as well as the financial impact would have to be taken into account.
71.4 The Climate Emergency Action Plan was not just focussed on the Council getting its own house in order: it also looked at how the Council could encourage the wider community to consider how they might become more carbon conscious in their daily activities. The target was ambitious, and could be impossible without securing necessary support from Surrey County Council and central government. Surrey County Council had commissioned the University of Leeds to develop targets and strategies that would be shared with Surrey districts and would help refine the work that Waverley had done so far.
71.5 Whilst additional targeted financial support would be needed from central government to support climate emergency actions, the work of the University of Leeds indicated that the one-third of actions to be taken to reduce the carbon footprint could be achieved through cost effective efficiencies; one third of actions would require investment but the benefits would be wider that just carbon reduction, for example the public health benefits arising from increasing cycling over car use. The final third of actions would need significant investment but improvements in technology over time would make this more affordable and government policy would change as action on climate change was increasingly seen as urgent.
71.6 In concluding his presentation of the Climate Change & Sustainability Strategy and the Climate Emergency Action Plan, Cllr Williams highlighted how social inequality and climate change could be tackled by investing in the local green economy in a ‘green new deal’ for Waverley. He commended the Strategy and Action Plan to the Executive.
71.7 Cllr Jerry Hyman spoke to welcome the Strategy and Action Plan, and recognised the role of residents in demanding actions from local authorities. He was particularly concerned that the links to air quality and biodiversity were developed fully. He looked forward to the opportunity at Environment Overview & Scrutiny Committee to scrutinise the Strategy and Action Plan in more detail.
71.8 Cllr Paul Follows thanked officers from across the Council for their immense hard work in bringing the Action Plan forward in such a short time, and responding to the challenge set by Council. All the political groups in the Executive had campaigned last May to a greater or lesser extent on action on climate change, and were in a good position to lobby government across political parties for action. The Action Plan was now in the public domain and he encouraged residents to take the opportunity to provide feedback to the Council on the proposals. It was a living document and would evolve and develop with the benefit of input from a wide range of interests.
71.9 Cllr Mark Merryweather echoed the support for the Action Plan, both as a councillor and also a resident. Whilst he appreciated the focus on encouraging more cycle use, this was not an option for everyone, and he was keen to promote more use of public transport and especially the introduction of electric buses.
71.10 In his closing comments Cllr Williams confirmed that following the Environment Overview &Scrutiny Committee there would be a formal public consultation, and more details of this would be provided in due course.
71.11 The Executive RESOLVED to
a. Note the draft Climate Change and Sustainability Strategy 2020-2030 at Annexe 1 to the agenda report.
b. Welcome the work carried out so far on the development of the Climate Emergency Action Plan and note its content, attached at Annexe 2 to the agenda report.
c. Recognise the need for further work to define SMART targets that will be measurable and tangible and requested that officers present those in September 2020.
d. Invite the Environment O&S Committee to contribute to the further development of the draft Strategy and the draft Action Plan.
Reason: to note the progress made on the development of the Climate Emergency Action Plan following the Council’s declaration of a climate emergency on 18 September 2019.