Northumberland

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Cabinet Report    Statement of Intent

Purpose of report
To seek Cabinet approval to the Council’s draft Statement of Intent in response to
declaring a climate change emergency and agreement to the next steps in developing a
subsequent action plan.
Recommendations
It is recommended that Cabinet:
● acknowledges the significant progress made to date by the Council in
responding to climate change;
● agrees to declare a climate emergency;
● commits to halving the carbon footprint of the County Council by 2025, with this
target being kept under annual review with the ambition of continually improving
its pace and scale;
● pledges to work with the Government to make Northumberland carbon neutral
by 2030 whilst appreciating that this will require a concerted national shift in
behaviours and significant technological advancements;
● produces a comprehensive and costed Action Plan for the next 3 years that
clearly demonstrates the initial phase of delivery by which the Council will meet
its above carbon reduction management commitment and work toward the wider
carbon neutrality pledge;
● maintains oversight of delivery through regular progress reporting and the full
engagement of the cross-party Corporate Services and Economic Growth
Overview and Scrutiny Committee;
● agrees to expand the existing officer Climate Change Steering Group
responsible for developing and delivering the Action Plan to include
representation from other relevant partner organisations;
● maintains the Council’s leadership in responding to climate change with the
suite of tangible, practical actions being complemented within the Action Plan
with clear steps aimed at:
○ raising staff awareness as to the importance of this agenda and the changes
it will bring to how we currently operate; and
○ defining how best to engage the wider community in its ongoing
development and delivery
Link to Corporate Plan
This report is relevant to all of the priorities included in the NCC Corporate Plan
2018-2021.
Key issues
In 2015, the UK Government signed the Paris Agreement as part of the United Nations
Framework Convention on Climate Change. It marked a major step in tackling climate
change by strengthening the commitments to limit global temperature increases to 1.5
degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
To meet this commitment, the Government set five-yearly carbon budgets which currently
run until 2032. Four years on, the Government asked the independent Climate Change
Committee (CCC) to reassess the targets based on the carrying out a detailed analysis as
to the impact on global warming of each sector of the economy. This Committee has now
recommended that the Government should enshrine in law the target of the UK reaching
net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
This report and associated Statement of Intent sets out the Council’s commitment and
approach in maximising its contribution to this process of decarbonisation.
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BACKGROUND
1. In 2015, the UK Government signed the Paris Agreement as part of the United
Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It marked a major step in
tackling climate change by strengthening the commitments to limit global
temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. This went
further than the current UK Climate Change Act and makes a national low carbon
economy an absolute necessity to comply with the Agreement.
2. To meet this commitment, the Government set five-yearly carbon budgets which
currently run until 2032. These restrict the amount of greenhouse gas that the UK
can legally emit in a five year period with the overall target being a reduction in
emissions of 57% on 1990 levels.
3. Four years on, the Government asked the independent Climate Change Committee
(CCC) to reassess the UK’s long-term emissions targets based on the carrying out
a detailed analysis as to the impact on global warming of each sector of the
economy.
4. The subsequent Net Zero report recommends that the Government should legislate
as soon as possible to ensure that the UK reaches net-zero greenhouse gas
emissions by 2050. This is considered achievable with known technologies,
alongside improvements in people’s lives, and within the expected economic cost
that Parliament accepted when it legislated the existing 2050 target for an 80%
reduction from 1990. However, it is also clear that it will only be possible if stable
and well-designed policies to reduce emissions further are introduced across the
economy without delay.
Council’s Statement of Intent
5. Within this, the County Council fully acknowledges that it has a significant role to
play in maximising its contribution to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions –
both in reducing its own carbon footprint and in promoting and facilitating wider
behaviour change through its local leadership.
6. The attached Statement of Intent sets out the commitment and approach the
Council will take to ensure its contribution is successfully maximised – both in terms
of reducing its own carbon footprint and in acting as a community leader and place
shaper.
7. To this end, it outlines:
● the Council’s commitment to accelerate and expand its programme of
investment and behaviour change so that by 2025, its carbon footprint will have
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been reduced by 50% from the 2010 baseline – with this target being kept under
annual review with the ambition of continually improving its pace and scale; and
● the Council’s commitment to work with the Government to achieve carbon
neutrality for the county of Northumberland by 2030, whilst appreciating that this
will require a concerted national shift in behaviours and significant technological
advancements.
Next steps
8. The Statement of Intent obviously sets out the medium and long term intent of the
Council. However, it has to be underpinned by a tangible and comprehensive
Action Plan that sets out a costed set of actions that the Council will deliver over the
next 3 years. It is proposed that this is prepared over the next six months.
9. The development of this Action Plan will be facilitated through the officer-based
Climate Change Steering Group which is already in place and operational. Given
the scope of this work, it is further proposed that this Steering Group should be
expanded to include representatives from other relevant partner organisations.
These will initially include: Northumbria Healthcare; Environment Agency;
Northumberland National Park; Northumberland Association of Local Councils; and
Northumberland VCS Assembly – with others being added and/or consulted as
considered appropriate. The work of the Steering Group will be reported regularly
to the cross-party Corporate Services and Economic Growth Overview and Scrutiny
Committee, and to Cabinet.
10. Finally, in recognition that the Action Plan will require both Council staff and
residents to change and adopt new ways of working, it is proposed that the Action
Plan should include specific proposals aimed at raising awareness of the issues
involved and securing constructive engagement in the subsequent delivery of the
Action Plan.

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