East Cambridgeshire District Council has set a new net zero emission target, five years earlier than previously planned. The authority has said it wants to be a “truly net zero council” by 2030/36; its previous target had been 2040/41. A report said the district council’s emissions “continue to edge downwards”, but had not yet been reduced by 10 per cent from the 2018/19 baseline position.
However, the authority has said the things it has done so far, and the plans it has in place give it “confidence” to bring the net zero target forward. It has also set a target to reduce its emissions by 80 per cent by 2030/31. The change was agreed by councillors at a meeting of the district council’s operational services committee meeting this week (Monday, June 19).
The members agreed to the authority’s latest Environment Plan, which included a “top 20 actions” it plans to take between now and June 2024. These include further investment in new vehicles and using hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) fuel in bin lorries, as well as reducing paper use, investing in turning disused public areas into “nature rich community areas”, and identifying locations to install free water bottle filling stations.
Richard Kay, the strategic planning manager at the district council, said he recognised the council’s own emissions were only a “fraction” of the district as a whole. He said one of the aims of the authority this year was to speak to people in the area to come up with what the target should be for the whole district to reach net zero emissions.
The report said: “As a district we emit an astonishing 1.25trillion grams of CO2 a year into the atmosphere. We all need to do our bit to help radically reduce this figure. As your location authority, we are willing to help facilitate the establishment of district wide targets, targets suggested by you, for you, to help reduce our collective emissions and help reverse the decline in nature.”
Councillors also agreed an amendment to begin work on a more detailed action plan, setting out what will happen and when in order to meet the 80 per cent emissions reduction by 2030. The chair of the committee, Councillor Julia Huffer, raised concerns that requiring the detailed work to be completed in the next year would impact this year’s aim of speaking with communities. Said she was happy to endorse the detailed plan being the priority for next year.
Councillor Charlotte Cane said the council had seven years to reach the 80 per cent reduction of emissions target and said one year would be a “big proportion” of that time, highlighting that some projects would have a long lead up time. Councillor Kathrin Holtzmann said the amendment did not say it would need to be a one year process, or that officers should divert all of their time into it. After some discussion the committee agreed to the wording of an amendment to ask officers to begin work on a detailed plan setting out how the 80 per cent reduction of emissions will be achieved by 2030.