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12 July 2019

Publish date: 12/07/2019

This week our CEO Deborah Evans hosted a live webinar on the subject of Climate Change with Tanya Corsie, CEO of iken.

We know that local authorities need to reduce emissions and improve carbon absorption. Friends of the earth have produced 33 recommendations for local authorities to consider when addressing climate change (read here) and set out how to achieve these through strategic actions such as a political commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; the development of carbon reduction packages and climate compliant strategies and plans.

There is also a plethora of actions available such as work-place changes; low emissions zones, requiring electric taxis, car sharing, fleet transfer to electric vehicles and integrated car reductions within the local plan. Revenue funding can be raised through workplace parking levy's, section 106 terms, inspection of the private rented sector and housing efficiency savings together with office energy use. Savings can be achieved through LED street lightening, renewable energy use (wind, solar), standard energy performance contracting terms to reduce emissions and requiring the production of bio-gas in waste management contracts.

Deborah surveyed those listening to the webinar and was intrigued to learn that nearly a third had declared a climate change emergency at their authority. Extinction Rebellion recently criticised a borough for implementing projects and plans they argued were inconsistent with that declaration. Caution is therefore required to ensure that every action is assessed and evaluated against the climate change parameters and policies within your authority to avoid such attention and lawyers can play a key role in that assessment.

What is the key message in all this? For Tanya, the removal of single use plastics is key. "You can make small changes and every single small change can have a big impact". Iken are progressive in their carbon reduction commitment and recently staff stopped purchasing balloons for parties. If I told you that a single plastic straw can take 200 years to decompose and that by 2050, it is estimated that plastic in the ocean will match the weight of fish in the ocean you might well agree. For Deborah, the key message is that local authorities should not wait for Government to enforce change by legislation before setting their own key policies and committing to carbon reduction by 2030. You need a strategy now to become greener with actions capable of yearly monitoring.

If you missed the webinar you can register to hear it here

Have a good weekend

Helen McGrath

Head of Public Affairs