Sheffield's emissions reduction target 'extremely challenging' with just nine years to go

Sheffield’s ‘net zero’ carbon emissions target is ‘hugely ambitious and extremely challenging’ - with just nine years to go.

Tuesday, 24th August 2021, 1:02 pm

The city must drastically reduce the greenhouse gases it produces from an estimated 3.77 million tonnes-a-year now to almost nothing by 2030.

The figure is in a new report by Centre for Cities, which estimates carbon emissions in Sheffield have fallen over the past 13 years from more than 6m tonnes-a-year to less than 3.77m today.

But while there had been ‘good progress,’ further reductions were likely to be tougher.

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Extinction Rebellion is plannint protests in central London for two weeks, to halt Government investment in fossil fuels. Pic: Yui Mok/PA Wire

It states: “Carbon emissions have halved in the last 30 years mostly thanks to a shift away from coal and carbon-intensive industries. But further reductions are likely to be tougher to achieve, because they will involve bearing down on emissions in two sectors where cuts have been much less impressive in recent years: transport and housing.”

It adds: “To meet net zero targets, cities need to move away from car dependency, incentivise the take-up of low-carbon alternatives, retrofit existing houses and prioritise more ‘compact, more energy-efficient’ housing.”

Domestic, industrial and transport emissions are responsible for about a third of the total each.

Centre for Cities also estimates Leeds emits 3.9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, Birmingham 10.1m and Manchester 10.6m.

Councillor Douglas Johnson, Sheffield Council's executive member for climate change, environment and transport.

In June 2019, the UK passed a law setting an ambitious target: net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

This, and measures such as the recently adopted Sixth Carbon Budget, are necessary to keep global warming under 2°C and avoid irreversible damage to the planet.

In August, a landmark UN report warned it was ‘code red for humanity’ on climate change.

Earlier this month, The Star revealed Sheffield City Council had been ‘sitting on’ £24m for a Clean Air Zone for 18 months.

Transport is responsible for about a third of Sheffield's carbon emissions.

The authority says it will publish a ‘net zero 10 point plan’ by the autumn setting out key actions on decarbonisation.

Coun Douglas Johnson, executive member for climate change, environment and transport, said: “We have been working hard to develop a 10-point plan to establish the key actions needed, to accelerate a reduction in carbon levels and get us closer to the net zero target we are striving for.

“It should be finalised by this autumn and will include measures to help us monitor the progress we are making.

“The targets, as set out in the Pathways to Decarbonisation report are hugely ambitious and extremely challenging.

"We can see the scale of what needs to happen to reach net zero by 2030 but delivering it relies on action and change not only in Sheffield but in national policy and funding, and from businesses and individuals. But there is a lot that we can and must do as a council to create the conditions for this change and to support people to make the right choices.

“Following our climate summit in March this year, we gathered lots of views, knowledge and information from local people to help inform our work going forward.

“Since then we have recruited a team of officers to focus on these essential and urgent plans which we will share later in the year. We recognise the consequences of not acting, ‘if’ is not an option when it comes to delivering this work. We are fully committed to reaching net zero and supporting our residents to help us on this journey.”

Coun Johnson said that since March the council has:

• Recruited a team of officers to escalate activity.

• Won £1m of Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme funding to improve the energy efficiency of 14 projects across four sites, saving 159.44 tonnes of CO2 a year once complete.

• Won almost £3m to improve the energy efficiency of almost 800 homes of people on low incomes in social sector and owner occupied homes.

• Won almost £1.4m to support small and medium sized businesses across South Yorkshire to reduce their carbon emissions, with the scheme expected to start later this year.

• Set up a scheme to allow local businesses to trial electric vans, 30 vans are available. The scheme is hugely popular and fully subscribed until January 2022.

• Announced it is due to launch a similar scheme for taxis to trial electric vehicles later this year.

• Entered a bid for Sustainable Warmth Grant funding which if successful will deliver energy efficiency improvements to a further 600 homes across the city. The announcement of successful bids will be late November, early December.

• Started working towards a bid under the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF) which launches on 24 August.

The Council has written out to Registered Social Landlords across the city with a view to developing a combined bid in order to maximise the benefit of the funding across Sheffield

• Developed a more detailed roadmap toward net zero across the housing sector, beginning with the council housing stock.

Coun Johnson said emissions reduction figures will be reported from next year.

But measuring them all was ‘very difficult’.

He added: “As an example, it’s unlikely that we’ll know with any reliability how many houses in the city have loft insulation because it’s not reported anywhere except EPCs and these are generally only produced if a house is sold.

“But we’ll be able to report on those homes that we’ve been involved in insulating, both our own and private sector where we’ve led work.”

The UN’s report, by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, looked at more than 14,000 scientific papers. Since it was published wildfires have hit California, Siberia, Turkey and Greece.

Protest group Extinction Rebellion is aiming to occupy parts of central London for two weeks, with its main aim this year being to demand the Government halts all new investment in fossil fuels.

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Thank you. Nancy Fielder, editor.