A programme of actions to mitigate the impact of climate change is now underway in Knowsley following the declaration of a climate emergency by councillors in the borough.
At the council meeting on Wednesday, 29 January 2020, Knowsley councillors agreed to make the official declaration, in response to current and predicted levels of global warming and the need to take immediate, local and significant action.
Ambitious targets to tackle climate change
In making the Declaration of a Climate Emergency in Knowsley, councillors have agreed that the council will aim to reduce emissions from its own estate and services to net zero by 2040 – a full ten years before the Government’s own target. Councillors have also committed to taking advice and considering the recommendations from the Carbon Trust, the Friends of the Earth and the Association of Public Service Excellence to inform the development of an action plan. It is intended to implement those actions as soon as possible to achieve, where possible, net zero before 2040.
Key themes of Knowsley’s action plan will include:
- Protecting and enhancing public parks and green spaces – this will include significant tree planting and providing more environmental education. It may also include the creation of additional allotment plots, production of biofuels and the installation of sustainable urban drainage schemes.
- Reducing emissions from the council’s fleet of vehicles – Increasing the use of electric vehicles with the aim of ultimately replacing all the fleet with electric and/or hydrogen vehicles.
- Reducing energy and water use from council buildings – Existing council buildings will be made more efficient, inefficient unneeded buildings will be demolished, new council buildings will be built with efficiency in mind.
- Reducing emissions from waste – Making it easier than ever to recycle with more recycling points in the borough, ensuring people understand how to recycle correctly.
- Changing behaviour – Establishing a new Climate Change Scrutiny Committee and implementing a Climate Change Champions programme to oversee progress towards the council’s goals, identifying any issues along the way.
- Working with partners on a regional, national and international level – Together with the Liverpool City Region, the council will lobby Government for support to help local communities address climate change. At a Knowsley level the council will work with stakeholders including businesses, housing providers, environmental organisations and community groups to help them reduce carbon emissions, too.
Robust, immediate action
Cllr Shelley Powell, who put forward the Notice of Motion to formally declare a Climate Emergency in Knowsley, said: “It may sound alarming, but to formally acknowledge the challenge facing the climate as an ‘emergency’ is an important statement. It says we recognise and understand the scale and urgency of this challenge – and most importantly we are going to take robust, immediate and local action to address it.
“As councillors we felt strongly that when we made the Declaration of a Climate Emergency, it must be more than ‘just’ words. We wanted to back it up immediately with specific actions which will help us achieve some very ambitious goals.”
We all have a part to play
Knowsley’s Declaration of a Climate Emergency is in recognition of current levels of global warming and predictions of future warming, which need to be urgently addressed to prevent the potentially catastrophic impact on our world of doing nothing. Everyone has a part to play in this – from the top levels of Government right down to individuals. Local authorities like Knowsley have been declaring Climate Emergencies and setting their own targets for achieving net zero carbon emissions. Like the Liverpool City Region, Knowsley Council is aiming to achieve this by 2040, which is one full decade earlier than central Government’s own target as part of the UK’s obligations under the Paris Agreement.
Some progress is already being made
Progress is already being made in Knowsley – the Council has successfully reduced carbon emissions from its estate and services by 36% since 2009. Meanwhile borough wide carbon emissions have also fallen – by 28% in the same time. But, the Declaration of a Climate Change Emergency acknowledges that there is much more still to be done.
Why set a 2040 deadline?
Achieving net zero carbon emissions for the council will be a significant and costly undertaking. Amongst other actions, it will involve replacing all gas and electric use in all our buildings with renewable energy whilst replacing its entire fleet of vehicles and machinery to those powered by hydrogen or renewable energy. Given the resources made available to the council by Central Government, to do all this by 2030 is simply unrealistic.
However, in setting itself a target of 2040, Knowsley Council is signalling its intention to reach net zero carbon emissions a full decade before the deadline that Central Government are working towards. This is the same deadline that the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority has also set.
The council also be lobbying Government to give it more support to help towards this aim and should more funding become available, it may be possible to achieve the goal sooner. Knowsley will be taking immediate action and as those actions start to make a difference, it can revise its plan and the 2040 target.
Regular updates on the work to reduce emissions in Knowsley will be shared here Knowsley News online and on the council’s social media channels using #KnowsleyActsOnClimate. There will also be opportunities for businesses, organisations and individuals to get involved.