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Council agrees strategic plan for working towards net-zero carbon

A new high-level action plan has been agreed by the Executive which will help the Council continue to work towards achieving net-zero carbon by 2030.

The new framework will allow the Council to develop a series of projects that aim to reduce carbon emissions through the Council's operational services and across the borough. This will primarily focus on energy, planning and infrastructure, which are all significant contributors towards carbon emissions. To assist with the delivery of the action plan, funding for a Climate Change Officer has been agreed.

Cllr Jan Harwood, Lead Councillor of Climate Change, says: "Climate change is one of our key priorities and a global issue that we all face. We need to do all we can on a local level to become more environmentally sustainable by leading the way and making positive changes to reduce our carbon footprint. This includes running a carbon literacy training programme for Councillors and Council employees starting this September. 

"The action plan will also include how we can realistically work collaboratively with partners and the wider community to have a more joined-up approach. We will play our part by creating a more secure and sustainable power generation and supply infrastructure across the borough." 

The Council declared a Climate Emergency in July 2019 and has taken important steps towards reducing our carbon footprint since then. 

Cllr Jan Harwood adds: "Alone, energy use accounts for 80% of all Council emissions and so it is an important focus of our action plan. A crucial step for the Council will be switching to low carbon systems which will help reduce our energy, as well as reducing our energy demand via energy efficiency measures. These will both be addressed through a programme to improve the energy performance of our estate, which is a key component of our plans.

"Over the last 10 years the Council has invested approximately £10 million on initiatives delivered on our own estate and in our social housing and has already achieved significant carbon reductions. We have invested and are continuing to invest in LED relighting, air source heat pumps, solar PV installations, building insulation measures, boiler replacements and variable speed drives.

"The Council also continues to play a key role in encouraging the transition to electric vehicles via its 'EV by default' fleet policy and has recently agreed for the installation of 20 new electric vehicle charging points. We also set up the Easit network scheme, a greener travel initiative, which enables key employers across the borough to offer significant discounts to their staff in order to increase the use of public transport and electric vehicles.

"Another significant step made was making our Council meetings paperless, which will have a large impact on our carbon footprint and make savings of £18,000 per annum."

Adrian Thompson, Chairman of Guildford Environmental Forum (GEF) says:  "We strongly support the Council's desire to achieve net-zero carbon in the management of its own estate by 2030. Clearly the Coronavirus (Covid-19) has been a major distraction in recent months. The Climate Emergency is now more urgent than ever and GEF is concerned by the lack of a coordinated plan to tackle it across the wider community, which accounts for 98% of Guildford's carbon emissions." 

Published on Thursday 30 July.