Leeds has 'so much more to do' in bid to become carbon neutral by 2030 - council climate committee chief

Leeds has come a long way in reducing its carbon emissions but has "so much more to do", a climate committee chief said as he urged everyone to consider their daily choices.

By Georgina Morris
Saturday, 9th January 2021, 4:45 pm
Leeds City Council's Climate Emergency Advisory Committee has submitted its annual report. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
Leeds City Council's Climate Emergency Advisory Committee has submitted its annual report. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Coun Neil Walshaw, who chairs the council's Climate Emergency Advisory Committee (CEAC), made the remarks in an annual report on the committee's activities due to go before full council next week.

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The CEAC was introduced following the council's declaration of a climate emergency in March 2019. It is a cross-party advisory committee authorised to consider and make recommendations regarding climate change and sustainability.

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Introducing its annual report, Coun Walshaw said: "In Leeds we are privileged to be able to work with the Leeds Climate Commission and with a wide range of academics, businesses, third sector organisations and civic and youth groups. I am pleased that we have been able to discuss, debate and exchange ideas across such a broad group of interests and politics.

"We can and will be a leader and exemplar city as we strive to reach a zero carbon future, where that future raises the living standards of future generations and that this process transform our lives and the city for the better."

Coun Walshaw also stressed the need for action as he noted that no Arctic sea ice had formed in October last year, adding: "This has never happened before in recorded history.

"Please think about this when considering the decisions you make in life. We have come a long way on our carbon journey, as this report demonstrates, but we have so much more to do."

The report itself gives an overview of the CEAC's working over the past year, which has included a focus on the development of the city's local plan, longer term transport planning and emergency active transport work as well as securing funding to support multiple energy efficiency schemes.

It says: "The pandemic has been challenging for many people for a variety of reasons, preventing many activities that people have missed but it has also opened up new opportunities that we can embrace as part of the city’s recovery, such as the increased use of technology to enable remote working – reducing travel at peak times and getting to know our local neighbourhoods and spend at local businesses."

The CEAC's biodiversity and food working group has focused mainly on the issue of tree planting as a means to both capture and store carbon and to improve biodiversity across the city, considering what opportunities there for such work as well as what obstacles need to be removed and how communities can get involved.

Other areas examined include how open spaces in packs could be managed to improve biodiversity, how access to nature is important to improve physical and mental health, and the carbon footprint of Leeds’ food consumption.

The planning, energy and building working group has focused on working with developers, better implementation of existing statutory policies on sustainability, lobbying the Government on building regulations, updating council policies, and understanding the value of the planning process in the city's efforts to become carbon neutral.

Meanwhile, the transport working group has heard from experts on a variety of matters such as the future of electrification and its limits. It has also focused on the issue of active travel, including school streets and active travel neighbourhood schemes that have been introduced in the city.

The full council meeting will be held remotely on Wednesday January 13 from 1pm.

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