Cheshire West and Chester
Climate Emergency Response Plan
The measures set out in this plan will contribute to radically reshaping how we live in Cheshire West and Chester over the next three decades. But we do not currently have the powers and resources we need to go as far enough, so we will work with Government to seek to devolve these competencies to a more local level.
As a Climate Emergency Taskforce, we unanimously believe that climate change is not a party political issue; it is an existential crisis that we must work together to solve. Therefore this Plan has been designed from the outset as a cross-party initiative, that is based on the best available evidence and data.
Half measures and partial efforts are no longer enough, nor were they for the past two decades. This Plan is designed with the principle of maximisation in mind. We must go as far as we can in all areas to tackle this issue. This will involve sacrifices and changes to our way of life but we will be a better place for it.
Councillor Matt Bryan
Cabinet Member for Housing, Planning & Climate Emergency
In 2019 Cheshire West and Chester Council voted unanimously to declare a climate emergency and focus on climate change as an organisational priority.
Cheshire West and Chester is, in many ways, a microcosm of the UK. Few places can claim to have such a variety of key emitters and sectors As a result of the concentration of industry in the north of the borough, the borough is the fourth highest emitting of all local authorities in the UK. This is a challenge, a responsibility, and an opportunity.
In declaring a climate emergency, the Council is targeting the earliest date before 2045 that CW&C and the borough, as a whole, can be carbon neutral.
This report set out the scale of the challenge and the type of interventions that would be required. More importantly, it noted that research from the Tyndall Centre demonstrates that, unless unprecedented progress is made over the next six years, the limits set by the Paris Agreement will already be breached within that period.
This plan sets out the actions that the Council will take alongside evidence on the borough’s current carbon footprint. It describes a range of actions to reach carbon neutrality including actions under control of the Council, as well as those the Council could advocate for the borough, and at national and international level. Actions generally can be categorised as those which are primarily mitigation-based – those that reduce carbon emissions, those that are adaptation-based – that reduce the detrimental effects of climate change, and those that will we will ask of our residents to effect change in their own lives.
What is Carbon Neutrality?
Carbon Neutrality is a term that is interchangeable with the term ‘net zero carbon’. It refers to carbon dioxide emissions being balanced with carbon reduction (offsetting) measures such as tree planting and carbon capture and storage. It is essential that we minimise the need for carbon reduction measures by reducing our emissions as fully as possible. Typically, it is much more expensive to off-set emissions than it is to reduce them, so our efforts are primarily focused on carbon reduction. Throughout this report, the term is also used as a proxy for the intent to achieve the area’s carbon budget, while recognising that this is highly challenging given the current technological, regulatory and funding environment.
The Council adopted three principles - that the plan:
should be underpinned by the best available evidence and data
co-produced with communities to ensure it harnessed the skills and efforts of our residents
Over the next four years, the draft budget plan includes £1.6m in revenue spending, alongside more than £12.7m in available capital, to ensure that we can deliver on this priority. Appropriate performance measures will enable us to understand whether the actions are having an impact. The delivery of the plan will be kept under continual review by the Climate Emergency Taskforce, and an annual report will set out performance against identified metrics.
The evidence available paints a stark picture. Information assessed by the Climate Emergency Task Force, concerning the high carbon-intensity of our industrial sector, and the radical nature of policy changes that would be required to meet this target, makes even the 2045 target and associated carbon budget exceptionally challenging to deliver.
An inconvenient truth underlies this work. Our carbon reduction plan does not and cannot go far enough while remaining deliverable by a local authority. We need radical change in the political, social and economic context, beyond anything currently envisaged by either local or national government to deliver carbon neutrality. While we have not created the current situation; we have a moral responsibility to do all we can to resolve it.
Energy and Industry:
Emissions from industrial processes make up the largest single element of Cheshire West and Chester’s total emissions at approximately 2.1 million tons per year based on Anthesis’ SCATTER analysis, or 53 per cent of total emissions.
Transport is the second-highest emitting sector locally, only surpassed by industry; the majority of emissions from Transport relate to on-road transport (19 per cent of total emissions), with a minimal proportion (less than 1 per cent) attributable to rail and waterborne transport.
Residential property makes up a substantial proportion of Cheshire West and Chester’s greenhouse gas emissions, at 572,000 tons carbon dioxide equivalent per year, or 14 per cent as of 2016 based on SCATTER data. This is the third largest element of the borough’s emissions, following Industrial and commercial emissions and Transport.
Commercial and non-domestic buildings fall within the 64 per cent of emissions derived from Commercial (11 per cent) and Industrial and Institutional buildings (53 per cent). Emissions from commercial buildings total 442,000 tons per year, the fourth highest emitting sector after industry, transport and residential.
Business Premises and Engagement
Land management can have a range of impacts on the mitigation of climate change through complex systems of emissions and sequestration (capture) of CO2. Cheshire West has a high density of dairy farming, that provide a challenge and also an opportunity for actions that can help to reduce green house gas emissions.
Land Use, Adaptation, Climate Repair
Waste and Recycling:
Cheshire West and Chester Council is one of England’s leading waste and recycling authorities. The area’s high performance does not, however, mean that the challenge to decarbonise waste is any less difficult, as many of the ‘easy wins’ to achieve higher waste and recycling performance have already been delivered locally, such as the implementation of food waste collections.
This report sets out the scale of the challenge faced in Cheshire West and Chester, the actions we plan to take and the performance indicators that will be used to track our progress. This plan is the product of a considerable amount of engagement, and is intended to be the start, rather than the end, of a process of ongoing co-production with Members, staff, residents and other stakeholders to ensure we can deliver on our goals.
Further work is required to quantify the resourcing requirements for the actions, and this will be undertaken once the actions have been reviewed by the Climate Emergency Taskforce and Cabinet, and their feedback and priorities are reflected in the Plan. There is also a requirement that this plan is aligned with future budget setting priorities.
The next steps for the development of the Climate Emergency Response Plan are:
Baseline performance targets based on the first year of data-gathering, where required.
Align the proposals to the Budget process and review in year resourcing reflecting Cabinet’s priorities for action
Further develop the actions within the sectoral plans, prioritising the delivery of those that do not require additional resourcing and seeking to agree funding sources for those that require resource.
Engage with and partners, stakeholders, businesses and residents.
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