Council bosses defend efforts to tackle climate emergency amid claims plans are lacking - The Rugby Observer
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18th Aug, 2022

Council bosses defend efforts to tackle climate emergency amid claims plans are lacking

COUNCIL chiefs have defended their efforts to tackle climate change following claims their plans were lacking.

Data collection organisation Climate Emergency UK (CE UK) – which collects and publishes information on councils’ actions to help them work together – has released findings comparing local authorities after assessing their published climate actions plans.

Rugby Borough Council (RBC) scored zero per cent, having failed to publish any plans despite declaring a climate emergency in 2019 – although CE UK stressed it had only assessed plans, rather than actions councils were taking.

An RBC spokesman said: “Rugby Borough Council is currently consulting on a draft climate change strategy and action plan with key partners and will shortly publish the strategy and action plan for public consultation.

“To reach this point we have carried out resident engagement, hosted a climate summit, appointed a Councillor Champion for Climate Change, developed our relationship with key local partners and launched the www.rugbynetzero.co.uk website. This work has allowed us to ensure our draft strategy is deliverable and meets the needs of the communities we represent.

“In the meantime we have progressed a number of initiatives, such as expanding the parks connector network, adopting a pollinator friendly policy and work to improve the energy efficiency of our housing stock.”

Warwickshire County Council (WCC) scored 25 per cent, lower than the national average of 40 per cent for county councils.

Assessment criteria included whether climate actions were costed and assigned to specific teams, had a clear goal, and whether residents were being engaged.

WCC said its actions to decarbonise its estate included replacing gas boilers with electric systems, installing solar PV systems, improving insulation, and the increased use of electric vehicles.

It said its total emissions fell by 31 per cent the previous year – although the pandemic was partly responsible.

Projects to encourage carbon reduction across the county include the Solar Together shared buying scheme for residents to purchase renewable energy and battery storage, advice for businesses, and the Green Shoots Community Climate Change Fund which finances sustainable community projects.

And following a report on the impacts and potential effects of climate change in Warwickshire, a further strategy and action plan will be developed in the coming months along with a regional climate summit in March.

WCC environment spokeswoman Heather Timms pointed to the recent West Midlands Local Authority Sustainability Benchmark report, which rated WCC as showing leadership and good practice in areas including household recycling and sustainable energy.

She said: “The results of both reports show that we have made a very significant start to reducing our carbon emissions, but there is always more to be done.

“Our focus is on working together with our district and borough council partners, as well as our town and parish councils, community and voluntary groups, to find effective and sustainable solutions that work across the county. Our ambition remains to lead Warwickshire as a county to be net zero by 2050 at the latest.”

CE UK spokesman Isaac Beevor said councils could be doing good things which are not reflected in their Action Plans.

“That is why next year we will be assessing all councils on what they are actually doing,” he said.

“This year’s scorecards are just the start of the process. It has been an important exercise to understand what makes a good council Climate Action Plan and we hope that it will help councils learn from each other and up their game.

“A good plan will help a local authority deliver effective actions, as well as enabling local residents to know what their council has committed to and so hold the council to account.

“While we understand that councils need much more support and funding from the Government, and have been stretched by the pandemic, the fact that some councils have developed well thought-out, costed and ambitious plans shows that it is possible.”

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