Cabinet considered a report of the Director of Economy, Transport and Environment outlining progress of the development of the climate change strategy and action plan.
The Chairman noted the level of public interest in this item, welcoming a number of observers to the meeting.
With the agreement of the Chairman, Councillor Tod addressed Cabinet and expressed how pleased he was with the response to the issue and the initial proposals. He noted the schedule of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 was a longer period than set by other local authorities and whilst accepting that moving ahead of national targets may not be easy, asked that acceleration of the County Council’s targets be considered. He highlighted the leadership role of the County Council and called on highest impact areas, particularly transport, to be focused on with the greatest urgency.
Cabinet considered the report and noted the approach of delivery focused practical environmentalism could be both stretching and achievable. The 2050 target was proposed to align with national targets and the dependence on government action made this achievable rather than aspirational. It was noted that the County Council ambition was to bring the target forward if this was practically and financially achievable .
Members acknowledged key strands of the strategy including community engagement, local leadership and working with partners. The importance of addressing resilience against the impact of climate change alongside mitigation of future change was recognised. It was explained that much focus would be on the biggest sources of carbon emissions; transport and domestic properties. The imminent review of the County’s transport plan would give a significant opportunity to increase sustainable modes and reduce car dependence. Reducing domestic emissions was historically linked with national incentive schemes for home improvement that were no longer available. Success in both areas would be dependent on Government action and working locally with partners. The County Council had an important role to lead on change and engagement with parish councils, environmental groups and other partners.
It was acknowledged that to achieve positive outcomes, action was needed across the whole of the County Council and not limited individual departments.
Agreeing that Cabinet should continue to receive regular updates the recommendations in the report were agreed. A decision record is attached to these minutes.