North Somerset Council declared a Climate Emergency in February 2019 and part of that motion included reporting to Council every six months on progress. In November 2019, the council published the Climate Emergency Strategy and Action Plan and in February last year, the Corporate Plan 2020-24 choosing the term 'greener' as one of three key themes. This means that the council will include climate change as a deciding factor in all policy and strategy decisions going forward.
While area-wide emissions can only be reported annually when national data becomes available, some council emission figures are reported more regularly.
Cllr Bridget Petty, North Somerset Council's executive member whose portfolio includes climate emergency, said: "We have produced a comparison of council emissions for April-September 2019 and 2020 to reflect the drastic changes to the way we are now working. This comparison included emissions for energy consumption in buildings (includes some schools) and streetlighting; business travel and commuting. It shows a dramatic decrease of 29 per cent, meaning a reduction of over 1,000 tonnes of CO2."
The council's Climate Emergency Action Plan says that the council needs to take a leadership role across the area to encourage, support and enable others to reduce carbon emissions.
"One of the ways we're meeting this challenge is by bringing Carbon Literacy training to members and officers across the council, ensuring that everyone is aware of the risks and opportunities of climate change in their day to day activities. This began with a day of training facilitated by the Centre for Sustainable Energy for councillors and senior officers in October. This was the first course of its type to be run in the country and has now been adopted by the Carbon Literacy Project for use with other councils.
"And I'm very pleased that last month in another first for councils in the South West we were awarded the Carbon Literacy Bronze Award which is a visible ‘badge’ that shows we are both committed to Carbon Literacy and serious about establishing and maintaining a low carbon culture," added Cllr Petty.
"While there is a long way to go to becoming a carbon neutral organisation and area by 2030 we are taking positive steps towards that aim," said Cllr Petty. "Our new Economic Plan responds to the challenges we know North Somerset businesses are facing as a result of Covid-19. The plan sets out commitments to help us build a green, digital, people-centred recovery. It is also an opportunity to promote our visitor economy as a low-carbon alternative to travelling abroad. Focusing on low carbon investment such as retrofitting buildings and community renewable energy can maximise the environmental benefits of energy efficiency schemes while also ensuring local people have the right skills to make the most of job opportunities.
"The climate emergency is real and with these and other initiatives we are really beginning to join up our everyday work with keeping the climate emergency at the front of everyone's minds."
The report councillors considered can be found at https://apps.n-somerset.gov.uk/Meetings/document/report/NSCPM-38-620