(Councillors Atkinson, Biederman, Connett, Dewhirst, Greenslade, Hannaford and Whitton attended in accordance with Standing Order 25(2) and spoke to this item).
The Cabinet considered the Report of the Head of Planning Transportation and Environment (PTE/19/35) on a revised Energy and Carbon Strategy, setting carbon reduction targets for the Council’s activity, circulated prior to the meeting in accordance with regulation 7(4) of the Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Meetings and Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2012.
The Cabinet heard from the Chair of the Climate Change Standing Overview Group (Corporate Infrastructure and Regulatory Services Scrutiny Committee) updating the Cabinet on a meeting that took place on 4th October 2019. The Group had supported the recommendations in the Cabinet paper to declare the Authority would be carbon neutral by 2030 through the Corporate Carbon Footprint and Supply Chain Carbon Footprint targets outlined in the recommendations.
Additionally, the Climate Change Standing Overview Group had asked the Cabinet to
(a) Add additional targets and strategies in the plan to address the 30% (of current figures) residue corporate emissions after 2030 and not rely on carbon offset;
(b) Undertake discussions with Town and Parish councils to switch off streetlights;
(c) Write carbon reduction expectations into contracts for new leases;
(d) Review the heating strategy across the Council estate to encourage less carbon being used;
(e) Ask the LEP to invest in improvements in the link with national grid to support greater use of renewable sources of energy;
(f) Use influence to Improve and increase the grid capacity for electric vehicles;
(g) Explore the local opportunities around school transport to move to carbon neutrality;
(h) Explore the encouragement of train travel on Council business by putting on a shuttle bus to the station;
(i) In line with the Friends of the Earth ’33 actions local authorities can take on climate change’ report; Does not have a default position to build new roads, considering other options where possible, and have regard to the carbon impact of building new roads; and
(j) Explore greater opportunities to use the residual heat from waste processes including incineration for heating in localities.
The Leader highlighted that the issues raised could be considered further by the Cabinet Member for Community, Public Health, Transportation and Environmental Services and the Environmental Performance Board for incorporation into a revised Energy and Carbon Strategy.
The Cabinet noted that the Council’s corporate carbon footprint had fallen by almost 40% since 2012/13. The current target was to reduce the 2012/13 emissions by 50% by 2030, which was likely to occur by 2021, therefore a more ambitious target was needed, with consideration of when and how to achieve carbon neutrality. The Authority also explicitly needed to increase efforts to reduce emissions from its supply of procured goods and commissioned services, not currently included in the corporate carbon footprint.
The proposal was that the Authority should elect to be carbon neutral by 2030 by implementing a number of activities within its corporate carbon footprint and supply chain carbon footprints. In relation to the former, a 70% reduction in the corporate carbon footprint on 2012/13 levels by 2030 was a challenging target that required the set of projects as outlined in Appendix 1 to be implemented. This included measures to meet the existing target for 30% of DCC’s energy needs to be met by renewable sources by 2030.
In order to declare the Authority carbon neutral by 2030, supply chain emissions would need to be neutralised alongside the activity to neutralise the corporate carbon footprint. This would involve contractors implementing measures to reduce direct emissions and using carbon offsets.
It was proposed that the Environmental Performance Board would monitor the achievement
against the ambitious and challenging targets, plus any future opportunities to exceed, referring back to Cabinet for any review, as necessary.
The costs of meeting the targets were currently unknown due to uncertainties about the speed at which technologies would be brought to market and their cost competitiveness; but there would be costs, some of which would offer a return on investment and others would not.
Decarbonising the supply chain by 2030 would have some costs with some measures saving money, but carbon offsetting could cost about £3m in the year 2030 and new financial resources would be needed to cover these. However, reducing the carbon footprint by 70% by 2030 would avoid £3.4m in energy costs.
The environmental impacts of the proposals were positive, reducing carbon emissions and their associated influence on global warming.
The Head of Service’s Report also incorporated an Impact Assessment circulated for the attention of Members at the meeting. This highlighted that Climate change would affect everybody in the county, and it would affect people less able to adapt the most (e.g. the less well off, those with physical and mental health conditions, those living in coastal communities or areas prone to flooding, young people who would live with the effects becoming worse over time). Implementing the recommendations would help reduce international carbon emissions and minimise the impacts on everyone. Whilst implementing the recommendations would require fundamental changes, this had the potential to impact negatively and positively on service users depending on the specifics of the proposals. Tactical-level changes to services over the next decade would need their own impact assessment to consider their effect on equality characteristics.
The Cabinet noted the potential risks to Devon’s communities from climate change beyond 1.5 degrees were profound. Whilst the Council was unlikely to influence emissions on a global level, it was vital to demonstrate local leadership. The Council’s corporate risk register had also been updated.
The matter having been debated and the options and/or alternatives and other relevant factors (e.g. financial, sustainability (including carbon impact), risk management, equality and legal considerations and Public Health impact) set out in the Head of Service’s Report and/or referred to above having been considered:
it was MOVED by Councillor Croad, SECONDED by Councillor Hart, and
(a) that Council be asked to declare that the Authority will be carbon neutral by 2030 through:
(i) Corporate Carbon Footprint
· Reducing its 2012/13 corporate carbon footprint by 70% by 2030;
· Retaining its existing target to source 30% of its energy requirement from renewable sources by 2030; and
· Incrementally increasing the percentage of the remaining carbon footprint that is offset, from 5% in the current year to 100% by 2030.
(ii) Supply Chain Carbon Footprint
· Engaging with contract providers to reduce carbon emissions from their operations and offset the remainder by 2030. As a first step, engage the ten highest-value contract providers.
(b) that Council delegate authority to the Cabinet Member for Community, Public Health,
Transportation and Environmental Services and the Environmental Performance Board to incorporate these principles into a revised Energy and Carbon Strategy, including the issues raised by the Climate Change Standing Overview Group, as outlined above.
[NB: The Impact Assessment referred to above may be viewed alongside Minutes of this meeting and may also be available at: http://new.devon.gov.uk/impact/].