Council climate strategy needs to be more ambitious

I am speaking as chair of York Green Party. I have carefully read the draft Climate Change Strategy that you will be discussing.

It is good that we now have a draft strategy, even if it has been a long time coming. There is much in the report that we should welcome especially the commitment to significantly reduce emissions within York by all sectors, and going well beyond just the Council’s own emissions. As the Council is responsible for less than 4% of emissions that is essential.

I welcome the work that has been already for instance with reducing emissions from housing construction and zero carbon homes and the recently announced electric buses.

However, the report simply is not ambitious enough. I want to explain two areas where I believe it needs to be much more ambitious.

It does not address reductions in Scope 3 emissions; that is emissions elsewhere of products or services that are consumed within York or by the people of York. This includes things like manufacturing, flights and food production. All major causes of emissions that happen away from York but are used by the people of York.

The Council needs to address their own Scope 3 emissions. Much of these will come from construction, whether road building or housing delivery. The council needs to look at how it will, for instance, move away from steel and concrete to low energy alternatives. One major source of emissions would be the Outer Ring Road which will require significant amounts of steel and concrete and lead to more emissions from cars passing through the edge of York.

But, and I know this is difficult, we also need to help the businesses and citizens of York to reduce their Scope 3 emissions, something that will require working with them, and the government in order to drive real change.

The second area that I think needs to be addressed is that even the so-called “high-ambition” does not meet our commitments to the Paris Agreement in order to keep temperature rises below 2°C, and preferably below 1.5°C. while there is some talk of going beyond this it is a failure of leadership by the executive member for the Environment and Climate Change to have a high-ambition that is does not even meet the minimum requirement. And remember that these cuts are only of Scope 1 and 2 emissions with no plans to cut the Scope 3 emissions.

There is a climate and ecological emergency. We need to do better.

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