Rotherham Council unites to commit to becoming carbon neutral by 2030

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Members of Rotherham Council have agreed a target to reduce the council's carbon emissions to net zero by 2030, and the borough by 2040.

At the council’s first virtual meeting, councillors from all parties voted unanimously to adopt a number of measures to meet the target, including reducing waste, promoting public transport, walking and cycling, and completing energy efficiency improvements to street lighting.

Members unanimously committed to the authority becoming net carbon zero within 10 years, alongside other measures.

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The government has set a target for the UK to be at net zero carbon emissions by 2050, and are considering policy and legislative changes to support this.

Coun David RocheCoun David Roche
Coun David Roche | Other 3rd Party

After the council declared a climate emergency in October 2019, a report was written outlining measures the council can take to reduce its emissions, which was voted in by councillors.

Coun David Roche said: “Time is against us and we need to work on this to make sure we play our part in reducing carbon emissions throughout the country.”

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Coun Bob Walsh said: “We should begin by pointing out our borough has a long history of mining and heavy industry, which is responsible for a perhaps disproportionate amount of the carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere, and therefore it's the right thing that, having been leaders in the carbon-intensive, coal-fired heavy industry era, we should be leaders in the era to come, which is one of green energy, efficiency and clean air.

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“This plan is pragmatic, it sets out things we can foresee over the next few years that we know will work and sets directions for further into the future.

“We can't be quite sure which will be the appropriate steps, but it does set the guidelines so we have targets in the short term we are confident we will be able to meet, because we know how we can do these things, and we have the right approach to finding the right technologies and arrangements for making further progress into the future.”

A policy statement sets out the ways in which the authority can achieve the targets, such as energy switching schemes, energy improvements across council buildings and upgrading the efficiency of new and existing housing.

The statement also looks at ways in which the council can lower transport emissions, such as reducing unnecessary car travel, improving public transport services and promoting active travel such as cycling.

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Waste and recycling is also an area the council can look to reduce emissions, according to the statement, which puts an emphasis on education around recycling.

The statement says the council's annual tree removals are currently higher than planting, and the council should allocate an annual planting budget to capture the equivalent carbon to trees lost.

It also sets out ways the council can introduce planning policies to help reduce emissions, such as requiring developers to pay into a carbon reduction fund, and requiring developers to include emission estimates in planning applications.

To ensure action is being taken, the member working group for climate action will monitor progress, investigate the feasibility of further action, and report to the council annually.

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